Byram council calls for return to in-person voting

Byram. The resolution, directed at New Jersey’s executive and legislative branches, says state legislatures, not governors, “set the time, place, and manner of Congressional elections and to determine how the state chooses electors for the presidency.”

24 Sep 2020 | 03:27

The Byram Township Council on Sept. 15 unanimously passed a resolution calling for the return to “in-person” voting this November.

The resolution, directed at New Jersey’s executive and legislative branches, says that according to the U.S. Constitution, state legislatures, not governors, “set the time, place, and manner of Congressional elections and to determine how the state chooses electors for the presidency.”

Elected officials swear to uphold the United States and New Jersey constitutions when sworn into office, the resolution states.

Councilman Harvey Roseff said he attended a special county board of elections meeting that discussed a container of 1,600 ballots for the July primary, representing about 5 percent of votes, that had been “misplaced.”

New Jersey plans to hold its first-ever mostly mail-in general election to prevent the spread of the coronavirus at polling places. But Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy’s plans face a legal challenge from President Donald Trump’s campaign. That injects some uncertainty into what voting will look like: Could the federal judge hearing the case side with the Trump campaign and order traditional, in-person voting at machines?

Murphy said there are four options: vote by mail; drop your ballot in one of at least 10 drop boxes per county, take your mail-in ballot to a polling place on Election Day, or vote provisionally in person on Nov. 3.

Roseff said mail-in ballots are reserved for those who request them. He reviewed problems with a mostly mail-in election: votes will be counted 10 days before election day, envelopes do not have to be post-marked up to two days after the election, and election committees. will have to bear an added burden. There will be “a lot of court cases, a lot of known and unknown, unnecessary side-effects,” he said.

In a related matter, Mayor Alexander Rubenstein read a draft resolution encouraging the governor to reopen New Jersey businesses based on region. “We’re doing a better job of controlling this whole thing,” Rubenstein said. “We’ve learned a lot.”

Officials unanimously approved the resolution as written and to be finalized by Councilwoman Cris Franco and Rubenstein based on their discussions.

The Associated Press contributed to the reporting of this story. Please see related story..

In other business:
DPW garage and break room repairs: The council unanimously approved a resolution to authorize repairs to the DPW garage and break room, not to exceed $36,000.
Elizabethtown Gas ordinance: The council unanimously passed an ordinance allowing Elizabethtown Gas to construct, maintain, and operate a gas line for the distribution of natural and mixed gas.
Backyard chickens ordinance: The council approved, 4-1, a backyard chickens ordinance that would allow up to four female chickens on residential lots. Roseff voted against the measure. A public hearing on the ordinance will be held on Oct. 6. Officials who voted for the ordinance agreed it was a compromise.
Ordinance amending construction and animal control fees: The council unanimously approved an ordinance amending the schedule of construction code and animal control fees. A public hearing on the fees will be held Oct. 6. Councilman Harvey Roseff encouraged more shared services going forward in order to decrease the over-head and help residents. Town manager Joseph Sabatini explained the ordinance brings the fees in line with the expenses they are incurring.
Electricity aggregation: The council unanimously passed an ordinance for the private aggregation of electricity through Good Energy L.P. A public hearing will be held Oct. 6. Mayor Alexander Rubenstein said the ordinance is not a commitment. Before any action, the council would first consider pricing. Councilman Raymond Bonker said they had to pass the ordinance to receive the township’s data from JCP&L for analysis and decide if aggregation will save money.
Verizon FIOS public hearings: Mayor Rubenstein encouraged the council and public to state their disappointment in two virtual Board of Public Utilities public hearings held Sept. 29 and Oct. 1 regarding the Verizon franchise renewal agreement for another seven years. He said Verizon FIOS, a high-speed internet service, has not yet been offered to Byram Township residents. Officials also hope to pass a resolution at their Oct. 6 meeting and forward it to the board. Roseff said since Verizon has decided to provide FIOS to Roxbury, they should also provide FIOS to nearby Byram. Rubenstein and Roseff will work on the resolution.