Yesterday, Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. issued an Executive Order that prohibits full-time, non-elected employees in the Essex County Clerk’s Office Elections Unit, Essex County Board of Elections and Essex County Superintendent of Elections/Commissioner of Registration from participating in any political activity.
DiVincenzo also called upon State lawmakers to enact legislation banning election workers statewide from participating in political activity.
Early in his first term, DiVincenzo issued an Executive Order prohibiting County employees from conducting political activities – such as selling tickets, raising funds, campaigning, etc. – on County property and during the hours they are working for the County. The Executive Order came a day after Gianine Narvaez, a suspended data processing technician for the Office of the Essex County Commissioner of Registration/Superintendent of Elections, pleaded guilty to absentee ballot fraud and tampering with public records or information.
“The Clerk, Board of Elections and Superintendent/Commissioner each has a serious responsibility in our election process registering voters, counting ballots, organizing polling places or handling absentee ballots,” DiVincenzo said. “Our right to vote is a sacred element of our democracy and we must take every precaution to ensure the integrity and public confidence in our election process is maintained. This Executive Order will establish the separation that is necessary between government responsibility and political activity,” he added.
This means said employees (about 60 people in three offices) cannot contribute money to a campaign, post a sign on their lawn, attach a bumper sticker to their car, wear a pin endorsing a candidate or issue, or attend a political rally or event. And of course, they can’t even think about seeking political office or holding an office with a political organization. The restrictions are modeled after similar policies prohibiting political activity by judges and prosecutors.