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State Sen. Andrew Zwicker. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Zwicker says early voting still needs time to catch on

State senator bemoans overall low voter participation

By Joey Fox, June 09 2022 4:44 pm

Asked today about low turnout in Tuesday’s primary elections, particularly during the state’s three-day early in-person voting period, State Sen. Andrew Zwicker (D-South Brunswick) said that early voting still needs time to catch on among voters and shouldn’t be dismissed just because it’s been underutilized so far.

“We always knew that when you add early voting,  there’s got to be an educational outreach system, so that people know about it,” said Zwicker, who has promoted a number of voting reforms during his time in the legislature. “As long as we see more and more people using it, and that’s what my expectation is, we’ll find some steady state eventually. This is the first primary; it’s too soon to judge.”

Just 20,230 voters cast their votes early in-person, representing 0.3% of the state’s registered voters – but turnout was only about 10% overall, so voters weren’t exactly clamoring to cast their ballots by any method. Early in-person voting debuted during last year’s general election; participation levels were not especially high then either, but like Zwicker, Gov. Phil Murphy has said that voters need time to get accustomed to the new option.

Zwicker also said today that low primary participation is a broader problem that needs to be addressed, whether it be by increasing voter education or making the races themselves worth voting in.

“I’ve proposed, for several years now, ranked-choice voting as a way to try to encourage contested primaries,” he said. “Obviously, people want to feel that if they’re going out to the polls, they’re doing it for a reason that makes a difference.”

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