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Republican Jack Ciattarelli votes in Hillsborough on October 29, 2021. (Photo: Joey Fox for the New Jersey Globe).

Ciattarelli casts his early vote in Hillsborough

Gubernatorial candidate predicts early voting turnout will grow in time

By Joey Fox, October 29 2021 11:04 am

Republican gubernatorial nominee Jack Ciattarelli voted in Hillsborough this morning, taking advantage of the state’s new nine-day early voting period signed into law in March. His early vote was one of the few; so far, only around 1% of the state’s registered voters have opted to vote early in-person this year.

But after he exited the polling booth, Ciattarelli said he thinks voters may just be slow on the uptake this year, and early voting numbers will soon grow.

“This might be a slow growth kind of thing,” he said. “We do tend to be creatures of habit, and I’ve heard a lot of people say, ‘I want to vote on traditional Election Day.’ So we’ll see. I think it will build as the years go by.”

Ciattarelli added that he doesn’t anticipate early votes being a big enough part of this election to prove pivotal to the end result.

“I think it’s really still all about vote-by-mail … and the turnout on Tuesday,” he said. “We’ll do a post-mortem on this – I don’t think we’re going to see large numbers in terms of early voting numbers.”

Gov. Phil Murphy, who voted early the first chance he got in Long Branch last Saturday, has given similar explanations for why early voting turnout has been sluggish.

“There’s no question this is the right step, and it’s a step in the right direction,” Murphy said at a briefing on Wednesday. “But here’s the thing. We’ve got no muscle memory. We’ve never done this before.”

Ciattarelli added today, however, that no matter what method people use to vote, he wants the electorate to be energized and show up to the polls in force.

“We’re going to go out and continue to energize people and tell them what’s at stake: our future here in New Jersey,” he said of his campaign. “We want to make sure people come out and vote. We want the highest turnout possible.”

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