2008 Presidential Election



By Tom Dwyer

If there’s been a more important presidential election than the one between Barack Obama and John McCain, it’s not been in my lifetime. With the economy in shreds, giant job losses, the mortgage and banking mess, plus two wars waging, the country seems on the verge of a financial and nervous breakdown. But in Hudson County, three government offices are working together to insure that this upcoming election will run smoothly.  The Riverview Observer spoke with the Clerk of Hudson County, Barbara Netchert, the Clerk of the Board of Elections of Hudson County, Michael Harper, and the Superintendent of Elections, Marie Borace, to see how Hudson County is preparing for the big day this November 4th.


Even under normal circumstances, Clerk of Hudson County Barbara Netchert is busy – assisting everyone from small business owners to passport seekers.  But during this election season, one of her most important duties will be to certify the presidential election for every municipality in the county.  Her office will receive the tally from every town’s voting machines and it will be responsible for certifying the final results.  Netchert also oversees the absentee ballot process.  Governor Corzine signed a new bill this year to allow people to vote by mail and Netchert is seeing a big turnout for absentee ballots right now. “Absentee ballots used to mean you were disabled or out-of-state that day. You can now vote absentee simply because it fits your lifestyle or schedule.”  Hudson County residents can request an absentee ballot by mail up until October 28th or visit the Clerk’s office on the day of the election up to 3pm.   Another hi-tech innovation this year is that absentee ballots will be counted by a new laser scanner which will speed up the process considerably—it used to be done by hand.  With close to 460 polling places in Hudson County, Michael Harper, the Clerk of the Board of Elections of Hudson County, makes sure that the election process at the polls runs as smoothly as possible on November 4th.    His office hires and trains the 4000 poll workers who will be working the 2008 election.  All new workers must attend four trainings a week between now and Election Day.   Some will be specially trained to operate the electronic voting machines.  No hanging chads, here.  “The machines used in Hudson

County are the Sequoia Advantage electronic voting machines.  Most people in

HudsonCounty are now very familiar with the Sequoia Advantage which is quite easy to use; it has a very easy interface. And of course it has a paper backup, so if anything goes wrong with the machine, we can always count ballots by hand,” Harper said.

Harper sees signs of an overwhelming turnout for the upcoming presidential election, and that means potentially long lines.   “By law the polling places are expected to close at 8pm. But if there is still a line of people waiting to vote, then one of our poll workers will go to the end of that line—which will be the cutoff  and then close the doors after that last person votes,”  Harper assured.  

Harper’s office oversees the procedure for what happens when a registered voter comes in but isn’t in the books.  “If a person comes in to vote, but they are not registered in our book, then we have them fill out a provisional ballot. They get to vote, but once we check our records and if we find that that person is not registered to vote in HudsonCounty, his vote is cancelled.”   Brian Cardiro, the Senior Election Clerk Investigator in Harper’s office, is the field person who makes sure all polling places are handicapped accessible. “Many polling sites were not up to code just a few years ago. It took a lot of hard work working with the Attorney General’s office in New Jersey to make sure all of our poll places are accessible to the handicapped,” Cardiro said.   

Marie Borace, Superintendent of Elections in Hudson County, is in charge of maintaining the voting machines and keeping them in working order. Her office places the ballots in the machine and sets up the machines in the polling places.  Borace is the “top cop” when it comes to problems on Election Day. “Any problems or complaints on Election Day come to my office. I’ll have a dozen state troopers plus attorneys from the Attorney General’s office under my jurisdiction.  They are there to help resolve any voting challenges or other problems that might arise.”  Borace’s office also oversees voter registration; so far they’ve already received 24, 000 new voter registrations for the upcoming election.


If you’re looking to register to vote, or want to know where your polling place is, or have any other voting questions go to www.hudsoncountyclerk.org

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