Gov. Phil Murphy signed executive orders in May and August designating the state’s primary and general elections as vote by mail. With the general election two months away, Township Manager/Clerk Sue Onorato has devised plans with Deputy Clerk Joanne Robertson for the expected turnout.
Onorato explained during the Sept. 1 township committee meeting that Burlington County had added another table in the Shamong municipal courtroom to collect mail-in ballots. The table will be manned and tallying of ballots will be handled by a poll worker from both the Democratic and Republican parties.
“Social distancing is key, and we asked them if we could have the ballot box in the hallway and they said no, it had to be in this room,” Onorato said. “If it can’t be in this room, then I’ll be forced to go into the Lenape District room, because they have a bigger room.”
An overwhelming number of residents cast their votes on provisional ballots in the primary election. But Onorato said she heard statements at the polls from voters who expressed distrust in mailing ballots for the general vote.
“I will say that so many people came in, and what I was hearing over and over again was they didn’t trust the system and wanted to vote here, even though it was a paper provisional ballot that came in,” she recalled.
“We ran out of ballots at one time and had to make copies for it because the county couldn’t get us enough supplies in time.”
Mayor Michael DiCroce inquired at the meeting whether voting can take place outdoors if conditions permit, but Onorato objected because she said the county wants the election to be done indoors in an enclosed room.
Residents in districts two and four typically voted in the Lenape Regional High School District’s administration building, but changes were made to move all voting districts to one area. No reason was given for that change.
Other possible options were proposed, such as the Indian Mills Volunteer Fire Company’s station or Shawnee Baptist Church. The latter has a large, indoor multipurpose room to welcome voters.
Ballot drop boxes were installed throughout Burlington County. Ballots can be mailed via the post office or be dropped off at the county’s election office — 50 Rancocas Road, first floor, Mount Holly. Ballots can also be placed inside a drop box in sight of a township or county surveillance system at the following locations:
- Pemberton Community Library, 16 Broadway St., Browns Mills
- Mount Laurel Municipal Building, 100 Mount Laurel Road, Mount Laurel
- Medford Township Public Safety Building, 91 Union St., Medford
- Cinnaminson Township Municipal Building, 1621 Riverton Road., Cinnaminson
- Mansfield Township Municipal Building, 3135 Route 206 South, Columbus
“Our residents were used to the old layout and it could confuse them if you change up the room,” Onorato suggested. “They (the county) don’t know our town, and they’re doing it to all towns in the county.
“I’m not faulting the county,” she added. “It’s just that they need to hear us for who we are and what we are to try and keep things as similar as we can.”
Onorato expects to have a conversation with the county on proposed election changes from the township.
Voter registration can now be done online at nj.gov/state/elections, and anyone who wants to do so must visit that website by Oct. 13 in order to vote on Nov. 3. Ballots are expected to be mailed by Oct. 5 and must be postmarked by Nov. 3 in order to be counted.
For more election information, visit Co.Burlington.NJ.US/Elections.