Letter: Let’s investigate this absentee ballot problem

Two years ago, the state of New Jersey decided that people could vote by absentee ballot for any reason. This opens elections to potential manipulation, writes one Hoboken resident, who asks that the situation be investigated and changed.
Here is the letter. What do you think?

To the Editor,
The election is over and I congratulate Mayor-Elect Cammarano on his focused, determined, effective and disciplined campaign.
It is now time that we come together and work with our new Mayor to reach a consensus on the many challenges facing Hoboken, e.g.; budget reduction, reduced property taxes, and a timely “reval”; quality and austerity at the BOE; thoughtful development that preserves our neighborhoods; Hoboken’s disproportionate share of County taxes due to Jersey City’s abuse of PILOTs; and converting the city hospital back to a not-for-profit entity.
But before this election fades from memory we must look at the role that absentee ballot bundling now increasingly plays in Hoboken elections.
Absentee voting was established to enable citizens to vote who were unable to get to the polls for such reasons as health problems, lack of transportation, concerns about bad weather, and being out-of-town.
Not any more. “In New Jersey, any voter can now vote by Absentee Ballot for any election. You do not need a reason to vote by Absentee Ballot. Don’t feel like going to the polls? Simply vote by mail. Now there is “no excuse” not to vote!” (New Jersey Department of State, Division of Elections).
In Hoboken the result is that elections are not won on the street and at the polls, but determined by an embedded, under-the-radar strategy of bundling absentee ballots.
It appears that “persons unknown” meticulously manage blocks of voters through the absentee ballot process election after election after election, to the point where it is their normal way of voting. It is hard to be comfortable that the “chain of custody” of every one of these ballots is limited to one person as required by election regulations, when it is reported that the same individuals regularly, at every election, deliver 100+ bundled absentee ballots to the Board of Elections in Jersey City.
And then it becomes harder to accept the notion that absentee voters are given the privacy they deserve to pick the candidates of their choice without coaching or unrequested assistance.
I have already sent a letter raising my concerns about the bundling of large numbers of absentee ballots to the New Jersey Attorney General through an easy to use web site http://www.nj.gov/lps/formmail.htm.
If you are as concerned as I am I suggest you do the same and/or contact the Hudson County Board of Elections at bnetchert@hcnj.us, the New Jersey State Commission on Investigation at Hotline@sci.state.nj.us, or the Hudson County Prosecutor at hcpo@hcpo.org.
Absolutely nothing in this letter is meant to suggest in any way that Mr. Cammarano was involved with absentee ballot bundling.
Maybe the stories about absentee ballot bundling are simply another “urban myth” but maybe they are not. It is time that an arms length third party reviews the situation, and that it is done before the November election for Governor.
It is time to be reassured that there is full compliance and transparency in the absentee ballot process. And this review needs to be done immediately before the recent election documentation is shipped off to warehousing oblivion, never to be located again.
We need to be sure that every vote in every election is an honest, private, confidential, individual vote!
Jonathan M. Metsch, Dr.P.H.
The opinions in this letter are solely those of Dr. Metsch and not that of any organization with which he is associated.

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