New Jersey voters approve more borrowing and favor incumbents
November 7, 2012By Alan Tu
Voters in New Jersey approved both statewide ballot questions yesterday.
New Jersey voters have approved allowing the state to borrow $750 million to pay for new and expanded academic buildings for colleges and universities. The bond referendum had the backing of prominent Democrats and Republicans, including Gov. Chris Christie.
No formal campaign against it developed, but some critics said that a state already some $33 billion in debt should not borrow more for any purpose.
Schools that receive the money must spend $1 of their own for every $3 they get from the state.
The biggest portion of the money is to go to the state's research universities. But smaller state colleges, county colleges and private schools except Princeton University are also eligible.
Voters also approved a ballot question forcing judges and state Supreme Court justices to pay more for retirement and health benefits. The state's constitution is amended to include judges in a 2011 law requiring higher benefits contributions from public employees.
New Jersey voters are sending Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez back to Washington for another six years. Menendez easily defeated state Sen. Joe Kyrillos (kuh-RIHL'-us), outraising the Republican nearly 3-to-1.
Menendez told supporters he worked to run a positive campaign that told voters where he came from and who he was.
In conceding the race, Kyrillos said he had no regrets about running but also suggested it was time to take another look at campaign finance reform, noting he was "significantly out-funded" during the campaign.
Kyrillos did get campaign help from longtime pal, Gov. Chris Christie. But Christie's pledge to campaign with Kyrillos down the stretch was curtailed by the superstorm Sandy. Kyrillos' home county was among those hardest hit.
Congressional races in Central and South Jersey
District 1 - Democratic Congressman Rob Andrews re-elected.
District 2 - Republican Congressman Frank LoBiondo wins re-election.
District 3 - Republican Congressman Jon Runyon wins re-election.
Republican U.S. Rep. Jon Runyan has held onto his seat in Congress by defeating the widow of the congressman he unseated two years ago. The former lineman with the Philadelphia Eagles beat Democrat Shelley Adler in New Jersey's 3rd District, the most closely watched of the state's 12 congressional races decided Tuesday. The 38-year-old first-term Republican was first elected in 2010 by defeating first-term U.S. Rep. John Adler, a Democrat.
Adler died last year at 51 from an infection of the tissue around his heart. Shelley Adler is a former Cherry Hill Township councilwoman and a Harvard-educated lawyer.
District 4 - Republican Congressman Chris Smith wins re-election.
District 12 - Democratic Congressman Rush Holt wins re-election.
District 4 - Democrat Gabriela Mosquera wins
District 16 - Republican Donna Simon wins
District 26 - Republican Betty Lou DeCroce
12:00 a.m. 11/7/12
New Jersey Republican Congressman Jon Runyon won re-election last night. With 99% of the precincts reporting:
Jon Runyon (R)- 53%
Shelley Adler (D) - 45%
New Jersey voters are expected to approve the statewide ballot question forcing judges and state Supreme Court justices to pay more for retirement and health benefits.
With 34% precincts reporting
Yes - 82%
No - 18%
The statewide ballot question on borrowing $750 million for the state's colleges appears likely to to be approved. Throughout the night returns show a 2-1 margin in favor of the borrowing.
With 21% of the precincts reporting
Yes - 62%
No - 38%
N.J. Senate race
NBC News and CBS News project Democratic Senator Robert Menendez as the winner in New Jersey. Menendez's top challenger is Republican Joe Kyrillos. With 19% of the precincts counted, it's Mendendez 58% to Kyrillos 40%.
N.J. 3rd Congressional race
We only have 1% of the precincts in so far. But for the record it shows Jon Runyon 55% - Shelley Adler 45%.
Polls have closed in New Jersey.
The vote counting has started in the Garden State. NewsWorks NJ is tracking with real-time returns a few races of particular interest to South Jersey voters. In the 3rd Congressional District incumbent Republican Congressman Jon Runyan is being challenged by Democrat Shelley Adler. The boundaries of is this district were redrawn last year. Cherry Hill was taken out of the 3rd District and Republican-leaning Brick Township was put into it. Political analysts say this should help Runyan win re-election. Click here to follow real-time results for the 3rd Congressional District.
Coastal Flood Warnings going up along the N.J. Shore
Rain showers will be developing around midnight along New Jersey's shore towns. A Coastal Flood Warning has been issued for the entire New Jersey coast from Wednesday 11 a.m - Thursday 8 a.m. This Coastal Flood Warning means moderate flooding is expected. Brick, N.J. issued the earlier evacuation order for 6 p.m. tonight. Toms River is issuing an evacuation order for its communities on the barrier island beginning Wednesday at 12 noon.
A report from freelancer Tara Nurin in Ocean County:
Despite an evacuation order that went into effect at 6 p.m. tonight, a polling location in the flood zone has announced it will remain open till 8 p.m.
Brick Township clerk Lynette Iannarone said she decided to keep the polling place open because the storm isn't supposed to hit until tomorrow and many of the people assigned to vote there live in areas that are only under voluntary evacuation orders.
The weather forecast backs up her assertion: Tonight for Brick, N.J. expect increasing clouds with temperatures steady near the upper 30s. Winds NE at 5 to 10 mph. A Coastal Flood Warning goes into effect tomorrow morning at 11 a.m.
Seaview Village in Brick is the only polling location in the area designated for early evacuation. Many of the seniors living who voted earlier today told NewsWorks that they had no plans of evacuating. The thinking appears to be that tomorrow's storm is no Sandy.
"We had no damage during Sandy and we're in a higher area," said Seaview Village resident Susan Lanning. "I know we're playing with fate but if we survived Sandy I hope we can survive this."
But one poll worker said some residents are fearful of another large storm hitting the area again.
"They were panicking, crying. They don't want to leave their houses," said one worker who did not wish to be identified.
A report from WHYY/NewsWorks' Carolyn Beeler in Atlantic County:
Turnout appears strong at the Upton building in Atlantic City, where several polling locations are being combined. Some of the street lights but the casinos are all well lit up and open.
One voter who just got power back on her house was college student Shemeeka Harvey, 23, who says she stilll doesn't have heat. Before coming down to vote, Harvey said she spent most of the day ripping up carpet, floorboards and scrubbing walls at her house.
She said it was still important for her to vote today. "My forebearers fought hard for me to have the right to vote. and I want to make my voice count and my vote count."
A report from WHYY/NewsWorks' Carolyn Beeler in Atlantic County:
Voting turnout is high according to one poll worker at the Ventnor Community Building at 6500 Atlantic Ave. Also, the line of voters was getting longer at between 3:15-3:45 p..m. But voters here are also swapping storm damage stories with one another.
Ventnor, just south of Atlantic City, is one of the many New Jersey shore towns that were hit by Superstorm Sandy last week. Many here are still without power. One example of this is the intersection light in front of the polling location is out and there's policeman directing traffic.
Because of the widespread power outages, four voting districts are voting in this Ventnor building that on any other election day would have just two districts.
The streets in Ventnor still some sandy spots, left over from the big storm. There are some discarded couches and rolled up carpets lining some of the streets.
The Brick Township Office of Emergency Management is monitoring a Nor' Easter that has the potential to strongly impact our town with high winds, storm surge and flooding. The Brick Township Office of Emergency Management has issued a Mandatory Evacuation for all residents that reside in the low lying waterfront areas of town that are prone to flooding and/or storm surge by Tuesday November 6, 2012 at 6:00 P.M.
New Jersey has extended the deadline for email voting for displaced residents.
The Division of Elections has issued a new directive that gives displaced voters until 8 p.m. Friday to return email and fax ballots. They still must request the ballots by 5 p.m. Tuesday.
The new deadline gives county election officials time to verify and process the requests. They must fulfill the requests by noon Friday. The state decided days ago to allow voters displaced by the storm to cast ballots by fax or email.
A report from freelancer Tara Nurin in Monmouth County:
Voters are praising public officials in the Monmouth County Shore borough of Belmar for their intensive efforts to alert the community about changes to their polling places.
Throughout the week, officials in the borough of 5900 year-round residents have been communicating with residents via Twitter, Facebook, text messaging, mail, automated phone alerts, website announcements and old-fashioned flyer distribution in the town square to keep residents abreast of storm recovery efforts. Today they continued with their system of alerts to tell all 3600 registered voters that the borough's four polling places had been consolidated into one.
The result is a relatively quiet room for voting in Borough Hall, where voters experience little to no wait time as they are directed to check in at a table designated for each of the individual precincts. Although a few voters expressed dissatisfaction that they and their elderly friends had only been notified of the changes by a sign posted at their regular polling place, most voters said they were pleased with the organization.
"We have so little control over anything right now," said one Romney voter whose power was restored yesterday. "But I wanted to come exercise control over one of the few things I can, something as important as voting. And it went very smoothly."
Democratic exit pollsters said although they'd encountered a large number of cleanup volunteers from outside the area, everyone from Belmar who'd walked by Borough Hall – also the site of a community gathering point for meetings with FEMA and distribution of food and supplies – was in fact casting a vote. Among the voting community, which is split evenly between Republicans and Democrats, the reported votes for president were also running even between Romney and Obama.
A report from WHYY/NewsWorks' Carolyn Beeler in Cape May County:
Voting appears to be going off without a hitch here at the single polling location in Ocean City. Last week's storm knocked power out to many areas and forced election officials to consolidate four voting divisions into one at St. Frances Cabrini Church at 114 Atlantic Avenue
The quarters are a bit cramped, and district election judge Betty Ann Powell said the process a bit more chaotic than usual, but voter turnout was good.
"The word is out," Powell said of the changed polling location.
Voters said they heard about the changed location from news reports or neighbors.
Some Republican pundits said on Sunday that Hurricane Sandy could help sway votes to President Obama, who reassured residents in hard-hit areas that the federal government would be there to support them. But for Romney supporters Peter and Debbie Beck of Ocean City the storm didn't have political implications.
"Obama needed to have a presence. No matter who was president, they have to show their support. (Debbie) Our minds were made up before the storm, and they're still the same."
The Ocean City Yacht club, the usual polling location for one district, was being gutted by work crews on election day after being swamped with water from super-storm Sandy. A large flashing road sign alerted voters of the alternate location at the church, several blocks away.
Three polling locations in Atlantic County were also moved due to storm damage.
At District four in Margate, voters cast their ballots in the auditorium of Union Avenue School instead of storm-damaged city hall. Voters there got robocalls about the changed location, or visited city hall, a few blocks away, and saw a sign noting the new location. A poll worker reported about a third of registered voters had cast their ballots by 1 p.m. They also reported more than the usual number of provisional ballots, which displaced New Jersey residents can cast at any polling location in the state.
A FEMA official was also posted at the Margate polling place to give residents information about how to apply for assistance from storm damage.
Voting problems reported in North Jersey
The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey is taking Essex County election officials to court over the way special email ballots are being handled. ACLU spokeswoman Katie Wang says the group has had about 25 complaints from voters who requested email ballots but say they have not received them
Associated Press reports the lines are long in Point Pleasant, N.J., where residents from the Jersey Shore communities of Point Pleasant Beach and Mantoloking had to cast their ballots because of damage in their hometowns.
A report from Tara Nurin in Monmouth County:
In Belmar, Monmouth County, a seaside community where at least 70 percent of 5900 year-round residents still lack power, turnout has been steady at the borough's sole consolidated polling place. Residents have streamed into a room in borough hall all day, checking in at tables designating their normal precinct. Although some of the four usual polling places would be equipped for voting today, even under these unusual storm circumstances, officials decided to conserve limited resources by moving everything to one place. Voters were notified of the switch by mail, by phone and by flyers handed out around town all week. Plus, there were signs posted at all normal polling places.
By most accounts, the process is extremely organized.
"I didn't have to wait long, and I commend the mayor for his efforts," said Johanna Robinson, who brought her brother to vote and was planning to return with her father later in the day.
Voting is taking place amidst a flurry of activity at Borough Hall, where officials have set up a distribution center for clothing, food, and cleaning supplies, as well as a check-in point for cleanup volunteers, and FEMA officials are on hand to provide information. Outside the resource area, Red Cross volunteers served hot lunch, and outside the voting room, a pair of brothers who spent childhood summers in Belmar set up a cooking station to give out free chili and hotdogs.
A report from WHYY/NewsWorks' Alan Tu in Mercer County:
At mid-morning, cars were circling around the designated parking for a temporary polling station set up on Princeton University's campus.
Seven voting districts that affected by power outages from last week's storm have been relocated to the Jadwin Gym on campus. That's producing more voters more than the parking lot could handle.
Inside the entrance of Jadwin Gym Linda Koepplin, watching over District 2 as an election observer, said this was not the usual voting location. "Our normal polling place was without electricity. This is all a direct result of the hurricane." she said.
Turnout has been strong at Jadwin Gym.
From Deptford, N.J., WHYY/NewsWorks' Tom MacDonald reports:
At the three polling places inside the old public works building, the morning traffic was brisk. Not a huge turnout but a steady stream. The mood was excited and friendly, and coloring books were being handed out to children who were waiting in line with their parents.
We have set up a NJ Voter Problem Hotline — 732-903-VOTE — where you can leave a message of what kind of problem you're experiencing. This will be monitored by students at Montclair State University during polling hours on Tuesday, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. to be used by news organizations of hotspots.
The state is operating its own hotline -- 877-NJ-VOTES -- which provides prompts in English and Spanish to help with voting. While we will also give help to confused voters, our effort is focused on recording the problems as they come up. To get official help, with a voting problem, call this state number.
We have set up a Crowdmap — NJVote.crowdmap.com — where voters can record their voting problems. Our student operators will also map voting problems recorded on our hotline.
NJ News Commons has a live blog — #NJVote — which will pull in the latest tweets, photos, stories and official updates on the voting situation on Tuesday.