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Low turnout across state in May 10 municipal elections

Newark still struggling with vote-by-mail, opted against early voting in election where 89% of voters didn’t show up

By David Wildstein, May 19 2022 11:50 am

With the exception of Ocean City and Union City, voter turnout in the May 10 non-partisan municipal elections was dismal, with more than 80% of registered voters not participating in eight of the towns that had non-partisan elections, according to a turnout analysis by the New Jersey Globe.

In New Jersey’s largest city, Newark, just 11.1% of voters showed up in a contested, albeit uncompetitive, race for mayor and four ward council seats.

Paterson, the state’s third-largest city, drew a 19.6% turnout to elect a mayor and three at-large city council members.

Turnout in Bayonne, where a two-term mayor avoided a runoff election by a mere 93 votes, just 23.7% of voters turned out.

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka received votes from just 8.7% of Newark’s registered voters, while Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh took 9%  and Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis won

Contested races for mayor in Belleville and Irvington drew turnouts of 18.3% and 11.1%, respectively.  Just 12.1% of voters came out for ward city council seats in Orange.

But in Ocean City, where there was a race for mayor and three at-large city council seats, 45.5% of voter turned out.

And in Union City, where Mayor Brian P. Stack keeps his foot on the gas seven days a week, turnout was at 32.1%, even though Stack and his slate of city commissioner candidates were unopposed.

Other municipalities with uncontested May 10 election came in substantially lower: Weehawken (11.2%), Long Branch (7.5%), and Keansburg (7%).

The four Essex towns – Newark, Belleville, Irvington and Orange – inexplicably opted not to use three days of early voting in their municipal elections.  Under a new law implemented in the fall of 2021, municipal governing bodies (aka incumbents) with May non-partisan elections get to decide if they want early voting or not.

A total of 23.5% of the votes cast in Paterson were cast through vote-by-mail ballots and 5.8% of the votes were cast during early voting.

Of the votes cast in Bayonne, 15.6% came from VBMs and 7.2% from early voting.

Nearly one-third of voters in Belleville (30%)  and 23% in Orange used mail-in ballots, but just 15% in Newark and 19% in Irvington.  VBM votes accounted for 25% of the ballots cast in Ocean City.

Union City led the state in mail-in ballots (13%) and early voting (20%).

Just 16.6% of all voters in the 11 municipalities with May 10 municipal elections voted this year.

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