: New Jersey's Voting Traditions (Early & Often)!

New Jersey's Voting Traditions (Early & Often)!

We, in New Jersey, have a long history of voting early (and in some parts of the state, often).  

voting (sxc)But to get even one vote counted, you have to be registered.  The voter registration deadline for the November 2nd election is this Tuesday, October 12th.  Because New Jersey has off year elections, only two state Senate seats are up for election but all 13 of our congressional House seats are up for grabs.

New Jersey law requires registration 21 days prior to the election.  You can download the New Jersey Voter Registration for Ocean County here, fill it out, and mail a hard copy to the Ocean County Commissioner of Registration.  All the info you'll need is contained the New Jersey Voter Registration link.

A little history about voter fraud in New Jersey  

The first issue of voter fraud in New Jersey was reported in 1807, when a question was put to voters about location of the Essex County Court House.  The choices were Newark and Elizabeth.  Newark won out.  It was a hotly contested election, with many charges of voter fraud.  What's interesting is this election prompted opponents of the women's suffrage movement to limit New Jersey's right to vote laws.

Like many other states in post-revolutionary America, New Jersey required that citizens, in order to vote, possess a certain amount of property (50 pounds). Yet unlike most other states, New Jersey also allowed free blacks who met the wealth requirement to vote.

Among all the states at the time, New Jersey was unique.  It also allowed qualified unmarried women (single women or widows) to cast ballots in local, state, and federal elections. These liberal voting provisions were highly controversial and subject to constant attack. 

The Court House election prompted a legislative inquiry (another New Jersey tradition).  In the next session of the Assembly, legislators hurled charges and counter charges about corruption and fraudulent behavior in New Jersey elections. Much of the misbehavior, it was clear, came from white men who voted even though they were not qualified or who voted at different polling places more than once.

The solution, though, focused on marginal populations: women, foreigners, and free blacks.  These populations were found by the Legislature to 'have no interest in the welfare of the state'.  Perhaps most frightening to the good ol' boy network was if women, free blacks, or aliens could vote, they might also be able to serve in public office!

So in 1807, the New Jersey Legislature dealt with the first voter fraud allegations by limiting the right to vote in New Jersey to free, white males. 
And a rich history was born! 


Comment balloon 6 commentsLaura Giannotta • October 09 2010 07:55AM


Laura...Interesting history.  Also interesting that you must register at least 21 daysin advance of voting.  Here in Minnesota you can register the day you vote.

Posted by William Feela, Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No. (WHISPERING PINES REALTY) almost 10 years ago

Laura, and I would have bet money that Chicago would have taken the top slot.

Posted by Nick T Pappas, Madison & Huntsville Alabama Real Estate Resource (Assoc. Broker/Broker ABR, CRS, SFR, e-Pro, @Homes Realty Group, @HomesBirmingham & Providence Property Mgmnt, LLC Huntsville AL) almost 10 years ago

Lots of places where it would seem "early and often" are the watch words at the polls...and even today...there are not enough safeguards to be sure that people ARE watching..thanks for the history lesson.

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) almost 10 years ago

William - There's been a lot of discussion about same day voter registration here, but most say it provides too much opportunity for fraud!

Nick - New Jersey and Chicago have a lot in common...after all Al Capone got his start here!

Sally & David - I found it interesting that the first reaction to voter fraud was to limit women's rights!

Posted by Laura Giannotta, Your Realtor Down the Shore! (Keller Williams Realty - Atlantic Shore ) almost 10 years ago

Kentucky politicians also engage in the vote early and often process.  And they'll not only pay you to vote, they'll get you a ride to the polls if you need it.

Gotta love it. 



Posted by Erby Crofutt, The Central Kentucky Home Inspector, Lexington KY (B4 U Close Home Inspections&Radon Testing (www.b4uclose.com)) almost 10 years ago

Erby, I guess it's pretty much a national tradition!

Posted by Laura Giannotta, Your Realtor Down the Shore! (Keller Williams Realty - Atlantic Shore ) almost 10 years ago