By Michael Hill
Absentee voters showing up in high numbers at the Hall of Records in Newark. Applications for absentee ballots already top numbers for 2012 and 2008 with five days to go before the general election.
“It tells you there’s a lot of interest in this election. I mean, it’s filling the airwaves. You can’t escape this election,” said Essex County Clerk Chris Durkin.
In Essex County, Democrats outnumber Republicans five to one and “unaffiliated” is the title for 40 percent of the voters.
Why is Cathleena Eccleston voting early?
“I’m going to Jamaica. My father passed,” she said.
This voter will be absent on Election Day but insisted on having a voice and sending a message. So she delivered her ballot today to the Board of Elections.
“We’re adults and as adults we should behave as adults. And tit for tat doesn’t work,” Eccleston said.
Ed Garvey’s voting early because he’s traveling next week and says he wouldn’t miss an opportunity to be heard on Tuesday.
“There’s so many issues on the table. There’s just so much vitriol between the different sides. I feel like my voice is important because there’s just so much back and forth,” he said.
Here in Morris County, a record number of requests for applications for absentee ballots and the Morris County clerk says she wishes every election drew this much enthusiasm.
“It tells me that people are really interested in this election moreso and they’re passionate about it and they want to make sure they get in to vote and maybe also they don’t want to wait on what they might think are long lines at the polling locations too,” said Morris County Clerk Ann Grossi.
Grossi says she’s had to hire extra staff because the stream of early voters has been steady since it began Sept. 24.
“It’s been an incredible number of people who have been asking for the ballots and coming into the office. We had to set up extra stations in order to accommodate the numbers of people,” she said.
In Morris County, unaffiliated registered voters top Democrats and Republicans.
Among the early voters today, Gerald and Judy Silverman because she’s scheduled for surgery next week. What’s inspiring them this election?
“The intensity,” Judy said.
“I’m probably less inspired by this election than I have been in a long time because I’m not crazy about either candidate, but we need someone to lead the country,” Gerald said.
Early voting had encountered issues in a few counties with mail-in ballots returned to voters because of technical glitches, but clerks assured those voters the issues have been corrected.
The last day to apply for absentee or mail-in ballots in person is 3 p.m. Monday and all of them must be in to the Board of Elections by the time the polls close Tuesday night at 8 o’clock.