After audio surfaced of Alexandra Soriano-Taveras calling for a boycott of Cedar Lane businesses, questions began to swarm about her fitness to represent the 37th District, which includes Teaneck, in the NJ Assembly.
This year, Teaneck saw record turnout at the polls. One member of the Board of Education received more votes than any local office holder in the history of the municipality.
Resident Tom Abbott, made a comment here, providing a link to details on his website, where he broke down the voter numbers. And one thing stuck out to to me. Three of the districts, at first glance, seemed to have far fewer registered voters than others.
Districts should have, roughly, an even number of registered voters. But as I started to look into the issue, I found that Teaneck, compared to its neighbors also has far fewer districts.
Fact: Teaneck has the highest number of registered voters for any Municipality in Bergen County.
We do NOT have the greatest number of Election Districts.
Hackensack, with over 6,000 fewer registered voters than Teaneck, has 25 election districts, compared to our 23.
Fair Lawn, with over 5,000 fewer registered voters than Teaneck, has the samenumber of districts as us.
When it comes to the average number of voters per district, Teaneck packs more in than anyone.
And when you look at our districts, the numbers of registered voters they contain, are all over the place. Despite an average of 1,258 voters, some districts (e.g. 12) have 1,776 while others (e.g. 16) have a mere 788.
The County Committee shall be composed of one male and one female member elected at the Biannual Primary Election by the Democratic voters of each election district of the County pursuant to law.
– Section 1. ELECTED MEMBERSHIP
Section 1. The membership of this organization shall be composed of members of the Bergen County Republican County Committee who have been duly elected or appointed pursuant to Title 19.
– Art. III, Section 1. Membership
On the local level, there is a municipal committee for each party, comprised of one male and one female from each election district.
The members of the municipal committees of political parties shall consist of the elected members of the county committee resident in the respective municipalities NJ Rev Stat § 19:5-2 (2013)
So, as an example, while Teaneck has 2.25x as many registered voters in District 12 as it does in District 16, both get two representatives. And while Hackensack has over 6,000 FEWER registered voters than Teaneck, they get MORE representation at the County Committee because they have more election districts.
What is the right number of districts and why does it matter?
When one election district has 2.2x as many registered voters, the lines are 2.2x as long. The volunteers are asked to work 2.2x as hard. The number of machines / ballots and equipment needed is in part based on the number of expected voters.
In Title 19, Section 19:4-13, the relevant numbers to look for are election districts with more than 750 or less than 250 votes cast in any two consecutive general elections.
19:4-13. Readjustment of boundaries for correct number of voters
When in any two consecutive general elections in an election district more than 750 or less than 250 votes shall have been cast, the county board shall readjust the boundary lines of such election district and other election districts necessary to effect changes so that none of the election districts affected shall have more than 750 registered voters, and for this purpose shall have power to consolidate any number of districts and subdivide the same. NJ Rev Stat § 19:4-13 (2016)
How many Teaneck Districts had more than 750 votes cast in two consecutive general elections?
Here’s the breakdown:
We have 7 election districts that have consecutively had more than 750 voters, and all but three did, this year.
Will Redistricting Change Council / BOE elections?
No. Because our elections are “at-large”, meaning that you vote for members of Town Council and Board of Education regardless of where you live, redistricting will have no effect on our elections. Whoever receives the most votes will still win.
What is the process for redistricting and how many districts will we have?
That is what I intend to look at. On Tuesday, I will present the information above to the Council and ask that we create a task force to look at our election districts. We should have clean and clear districts, with roughly the same number of voters in each.
To bring down the average number of voters at the polls to the maximum permitted (750), would require an additional 7 districts.
We currently average over 1,250 registered voters in each of our 23 districts. Bringing that number down to 750 would mean adding 16 districts.
Here is a breakdown of turnout by district. I made this based on information received from the County. It’s subject to change and I can’t verify the accuracy of the information. It also may not count those recently registered to vote. But, it’s the best I have at the moment.
Mailing your Vote-by-Mail Ballot, which will be sent by Bergen County to all Active, Registered Voters in early October. If you choose this option, we recommend you do so as soon as you fill out your ballot – postage will be paid for! (If you do not receive a VBM ballot please contact any of the election offices ASAP).
Dropping your Vote-by-Mail Ballot in one of many secured, monitored locked drop boxes throughout Bergen County. There will be a drop-box located at the Teaneck Municipal Building – 818 Teaneck Road Teaneck, NJ 07666 at the North Entrance between the Tax Collection Box and USPS Mail Boxes. (See a list of secured drop boxes here: List of Secure Drop-Box Locations
Dropping your Vote-by-Mail Ballot at your assigned polling location on Election Day – November 3, 2020 up until 8PM. You will have to submit your ballot directly to a poll worker and sign your name in the registration book.
Dropping your Vote-by-Mail Ballot directly to the Bergen County Board of Elections office at 1 Bergen County Plaza in Hackensack, NJ. Please call the office ahead of time so they can arrange a safe retrieval from you (201-336-6225).
If you wish to not participate in the VBM Process, Voters who are NOT ADA Disabled will be able too go to their assigned polling locations on November 3, 2020 from 6am-8pm and fill out a provisional ballot as a way to cast their vote. Please remember to practice social distancing and wear a face covering if you choose to do this option.
Those who are certified ADA Disabled will be able to go to their assigned polling location on November 3, 2020 and utilize an ADA accessible polling booth as a way to cast their ballot.
Below please find the polling locations/district allocations for the 2020 Presidential General Election:
1, 2 TEANECK HIGH SCHOOL CRANFORD PL GYM
3, 4 TEANECK HIGH SCHOOL CRANFORD PL GYM
5, 6 TEANECK HIGH SCHOOL CRANFORD PL GYM
7, 8 TEANECK HIGH SCHOOL CRANFORD PL GYM
9, 10 WHITTIER SCHOOL 491 WEST ENGLEWOOD AVE MULTI PURPOSE ROOM #114
11, 12 WHITTIER SCHOOL 491 WEST ENGLEWOOD AVE MULTI PURPOSE ROOM #114
13, 14 BRYANT SCHOOL 1 EAST TRYON AVE ****CAFETERIA
15, 16 BRYANT SCHOOL 1 EAST TRYON AVE ****CAFETERIA
17, 18 BRYANT SCHOOL 1 EAST TRYON AVE ****AUDITORIUM
19, 20 THOMAS JEFFERSON MIDDLE SCHOOL #5 655 TEANECK ROAD ****AUDITORIUM
21, 22 FIREHOUSE #3 370 TEANECK ROAD
23 FIREHOUSE #3 370 TEANECK ROAD
*A notice will be sent to your registered address from Bergen County notifying you of your assigned polling location. If you do not receive this notice in the next few weeks please contact any of the election offices for guidance.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding the above information, please do not hesitate to reach out to our office or any of the election offices:
On Wednesday, July 1st, 2020 at 6:00 pm, the Teaneck Council will hold the semi-annual reorganization meeting at the Teaneck Town Hall.
(Agenda available here: Reorganization Agenda)
We will be swearing in Mark Schwartz, Karen Orgen & Mike Pagan.
In addition, Council will elect the Mayor & Deputy Mayors, among others.
For those that may not be familiar with the way the Teaneck Council operates, I’d like to offer some additional information:
How does our system work?
Teaneck utilizes the Council-Manager form of Government under the Faulkner Act. What that means in practice is that residents choose their council-members “at-large” (i.e. you vote for everyone, as opposed to a ward system like neighboring Englewood) and the Council as a body, once elected and seated, chooses a mayor from among the council-members (as opposed to municipalities where the Mayor runs separately). Continue reading “Save the Date: Teaneck Council Reorganization on July 1, 2020”
The Covid-19 Pandemic has upended many of the ways we conduct our lives. In the May municipal elections, polls were replaced with envelopes.
Unfortunately, despite the best efforts, not all envelopes were given the same treatment.
Worse, still, it’s impossible to know how many envelopes did not arrive. It’s not as if you can just count what didn’t show up.
In an effort to find out what worked and what didn’t, I requested information from the Bergen County Board of Elections, as to what ballots arrived and what didn’t. The staff and administration at the BOE have been helpful and worked hard to help explain the system. They expressed a profound amount of concern for ensuring the system runs as smooth as possible and that every vote is counted. They do a tremendous amount of work under very strict rules and tight time-frames.
Changes in the systems created issues
It seems that NJ has a new interface between two independent systems, which created some hiccups in reporting and coordination. The County Board of Elections system feeds information into the State Voter Registration System (SVRS). I spoke with the head of the County system as well as the head of the State system. That integration, to put it mildly, is not seamless.
Areas for focus:
Two problematic areas which require more review are:
When one starts to review laws, either on a local or state basis, the complexity factor is readily apparent. There are many layers, tweaked over the decades (and sometimes centuries) which make legal counsel a requirement, even to understand what otherwise look like simple words.
Take this example:
“The commission shall consist of not less than five nor more than seven members, appointed by the mayor of the municipality…”