ESSEX COUNTY, NJ — When it comes to the vote-by-mail debate and the 2020 general election, it’s pretty clear where New Jersey Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce stands.
“I don’t see how waiting on a relatively short line at a polling booth is more dangerous than waiting on a long line at a motor vehicle center or the supermarket,” DeCroce said.
On Thursday, DeCroce – a Republican who represents the state’s 26th District – issued a call to her peers and constituents to demand in-person voting this November.
“We have seen that mail-in balloting is ripe for abuse, mistakes, voter fraud and corruption in New Jersey,” DeCroce said, citing corruption allegations by the state Attorney General in Paterson’s May 12 city council election, and disputed and uncounted mail-in ballots in the July 7 primary election.
DeCroce said that with proper safeguards in place at polling stations, in-person voting can be “as safe or safer” than many activities that have already gotten the green light in New Jersey.
According to the assemblywoman, it’s important not to use the coronavirus as an excuse to “open up the voting process to the corruption and abuse that we have suffered with the universal mail-in process.”
Part of the solution will be to prepare poll workers – a whole bunch of them, DeCroce said.
DeCroce said that traditionally, most of the poll workers in the state have been elderly people who are retired and have time to spend at the polling stations on Election Day.
But in the wake of the coronavirus, many of those older poll workers will likely balk at volunteering, so the state needs to start attracting and training younger poll workers to fill the gaps, she said.
DeCroce suggested that the state should begin reaching out to college students, noting that poll workers are paid $200 a day.
The 26th District includes the following municipalities in Essex, Morris and Passaic counties: Butler, Fairfield, Jefferson, Kinnelon, Lincoln Park, Montville, Morris Plains, North Caldwell, Parsippany-Troy Hills, Rockaway Township, Verona, West Caldwell and West Milford.
BOOKER: VOTE-BY-MAIL SHOULD GO NATIONWIDE
Other elected officials in New Jersey have taken a much different stance when it comes to voting in the coronavirus crisis, however.
Earlier this month, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker pushed to make vote-by-mail a “nationwide option” for all U.S. voters in an online petition.
The senator wrote in a recent campaign email:
“Our primary election in New Jersey happened on Tuesday, and thanks to our state’s vote-by-mail option, millions of voters had the option to safely cast their ballots by mail as we continue to live through this dangerous pandemic. But vote-by-mail isn’t a nationwide option for all voters. As new confirmed coronavirus cases continue to rise and we quickly move closer to the general election, the U.S. Senate has failed to act to protect voters’ health and safety.”
“That means come November, millions of Americans could be waiting in long lines for hours at a limited number of polling places to cast their ballot, like we saw in states like Wisconsin and Georgia earlier this spring. No one should have to put their health and safety at risk like that in order to participate in our democracy. To deny voters the option of voting by mail is to suppress the vote in this critical election year, and with so much at stake, we need to do everything in our power to make it as easy as possible for every voter to exercise their most basic Constitutional right.”
“Time is running out to pass federal vote-by-mail before the 2020 election, so we need to act fast,” the senator wrote.
Booker, the former mayor of Newark, is up for reelection in November. He was recently declared the winner of the Democratic primary.
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This article originally appeared on the Caldwells Patch