Middletown Mayor: All 19 Polling Locations Will Be Open On Nov. 3

MIDDLETOWN, NJ — Middletown Mayor Tony Perry is taking the unusual step of making sure all 19 of the town's polling places will be open on election day, Nov. 3.

Because Gov. Phil Murphy has ordered all New Jersey voters to vote by mail this November, as it was in the primary, don't expect to see any actual voting machines in place at the Middletown polls.

"I wish!" said Perry, a Republican.

However, what voters can do is bring their paper ballot into the polling place and physically hand it to a poll worker.

"The governor's executive order allows for at least 50 percent of polling places to be open, and I'm going to make it 100. I'm currently working to get all 19 polls open and I am actively recruiting polls workers right now," said Perry. "People will have the right to walk into a polling place and hand in their ballot. If people don't feel comfortable voting by mail, they should be able to vote in person."

Perry said so far, he is not aware of any other New Jersey town that will have every single polling location open on election day, although many towns may have one or two polling sites open.

Murphy ordered New Jersey to only vote by mail this November due to ongoing concerns about coronavirus. Many U.S. states have long had vote-by-mail and absentee voting; in fact, that is how President Trump himself will be voting in Florida. However, New Jersey's governor, like New York and other states, made voting by mail the only option.

"Massive mail-in voting is not absentee voting," said Perry. "It is a disservice to the public to compare the two. With absentee voting, a voter requests to vote by mail."

Perry said even after people drop off their paper ballot, "I have a knot in my stomach thinking about what happens from there," he said. "With the machines, it was computerized. It tallied all the votes and 25 minutes after the polls closed, we had a tally and it was reported to the county clerk. Now you're talking about collecting all these paper ballots and bringing them to the county clerk. I predict lawsuits, ballots being rejected, all types of confusion coming from this."

Perry spoke at and was one of about an estimated 400-500 people who attended a rally in Middletown Sunday specifically to protest Murphy's mail-in voting requirement. The rally was called "Protest Against NJ GOVERNOR Murphy" and met in Bodman Park. From there, many marched to the governor's mansion, located less than a mile away on Navesink River Road. (Perry did not rally outside Murphy's driveway; he said he just spoke in the park.)

U.S. Senate candidate Rik Mehta spoke at the protest, as did Jennifer Zinone, a Congress candidate for New Jersey's 10th district, Billy Prempeh, a Congress candidate for NJ 9, Old Bridge Councilman Mark Razzoli and state Assemblyman Gerry Scharfenberger, all Republican. Piera Accumanno, president of www.BanMailInVotingNJ.com, also spoke.

Some held signs reading "Don't let a knucklehead take away our rights," a play on Murphy's favorite term.

South Jersey resident Carol Love, who lives in Mays Landing, is part of a group called Demand Against NJ GOVERNOR Murphy, made up of Accumanno, Pam Collins, Doreen Wademan and Suzanah Plant; they organized Sunday's rally. Its purpose, she said, was to express voters' frustration with New Jersey's general stripping away of rights and freedoms during the COVID pandemic, and what she says is government overreach.

"I lost my father in mid-April, not to COVID, and Murphy took away my rights to have a service for him," she said. "It was upsetting to me. When I saw he had taken away our voting rights as well, I said enough. I needed to do something."

Love was further spurred to action when she said: "In the primary, I received five ballots for my mom, five ballots for my dad and mine, I never even got. Now, both my parents have passed. So if I can't even trust the primaries, how can I trust the most important election of all, the presidential election? I want my vote to count. I'm angry."

"That is insane to me," said Perry, when told of Love's story. "I think any normal person would hear that and say there is something wrong here. If we can sit in line at the MVC for six hours, and go into a movie theater; if we can now dine indoors, why is it that people cannot vote in person? I don't think you should take that away from them."

Many at Sunday's rally also said they would be bringing their photo ID when dropping off their ballot at the polls Nov. 3.

Love said she and the others are organizing what she says will be a bigger rally soon in Trenton.

She acknowledged that the clock is ticking on getting Gov. Murphy to reverse course before Nov. 3.

"We think we can get this done in a week," she said. "I want to get our right to vote back."

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This article originally appeared on the Middletown Patch