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Atlantic freeholders to vote on opposing all-vote-by-mail election in fall

Atlantic freeholders to vote on opposing all-vote-by-mail election in fall


Atlantic County freeholders will vote Aug. 18 on resolutions to oppose holding a strictly vote-by-mail Presidential election Nov. 3, and to support a name change for themselves to "county commissioners."

The resolutions were on the agenda for the Aug. 4 meeting, which was cancelled because of power outages related to Tropical Storm Isaias.

The election resolution, sponsored by Republican Freeholders John Risley and  Amy Gatto, said the July 7 primary election showed that the Statewide Voter Registration System and county elections offices were overwhelmed handling all the ballots.

"We oppose any options for the general election on November 3, 2020, where voting via an approved machine in a polling location is not an option," the resolution stated.

About 49,000 ballots were cast July 7 in Atlantic County, and the final count wasn't done for weeks after Election Day.

Since the presidential election is likely to generate a much higher number of ballots than the primary, the resolution questioned the wisdom of not using machines for those who prefer them.

It also said an all-vote-by-mail primary would be too costly, questioned Gov. Phil Murphy's legal authority to change how the general election is run without state legislation, and urged election officials to immediately implement safeguards to protect all vote-by-mail ballots "to ensure integrity in the voting process."

The freeholder name change resolution, sponsored by Democratic freeholders Ernest D. Coursey and Caren L. Fitzpatrick, said the office of freeholder dates to the original state constitution of 1776.

Freeholders were defined then as those who had an estate and at least 50 pounds of "proclamation money," according to the resolution.

The resolution said the term Freeholder "is rooted in structural racism and sexism as it came into use during a time when only white, male landowners could hold public office."

It also says the board supports a bill that passed both the Assembly and Senate to change the name to "county commissioner."

Contact: 609-272-7219

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Staff Writer

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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