On Election Day 2023, Montclair residents came out to vote on a ballot that included nine candidates running for the Montclair Board of Education. Lindsey and Jordan Greenberger took the whole family to vote at Edgemont School Tuesday morning.
“We want to teach our children about the importance of civic duty,” said Jordan Greenberger.
Haywood Woods was invigorated as he cast his vote at the Pine Street Firehouse. Woods said he wished more people voted in their local elections.
“They don’t really know about the election, but the one thing we forget about is people die for this vote. Voting is very important.”
Voting Delayed at Hillside School
It wasn’t smooth sailing at the polls for everyone. Montclair resident Avrin Slatkin was not able to vote this morning due to a machine mix up at Hillside Elementary School.
“I was at my polling place at 6:05 a.m. I was told the wrong machines had been delivered and therefore I couldn’t vote,” Slatkin shared in an email to Montclair Local. “I asked to vote provisionally. They told me I could not do that, because the provisional ballots were in the wrong machines that had been delivered.”
“I spent time in a country that had no elections,” added Slatkin, who was frustrated and unsure if he would be able to return to vote later in the day.
“We were lucky we didn’t have a lot of people,” poll worker Cheryl Thompson-Martin said of the problem with the voting machines at Hillside.
Poll worker Carlos Rivers said he spotted the mix up immediately. Hillside Elementary voting machines are usually labeled 3-7 to represent the district, but the voting machines that were dropped off were labeled 3-3. Rivers called the Division of Elections to inform them.
Another poll worker, Nicole Colley, said that by 6:45 a.m. the correct machines were up and running for people ready to vote.
“I voted today because I value being an active, engaged community member and doing my civic duty,” shared Mary Kate Schmermund, who was later able to vote at Hillside. “People have fought tirelessly to get the right to vote so I will utilize that right whenever I have it.”
When Voting Is A Trip Downstairs
Grange Lady Haig Rutan, a fourth generation Montclair resident, has been living in First Montclair House since 2010.
“I’m very proud we have voting on site in the lobby, especially now that I’m 85. I just go downstairs to vote,” said Rutan. “There seems to be a really good turn out today”
Terry Lacewell was also at First House Montclair, working the polls for the very first time. By 9 a.m. there had been at least 50 people who came to vote, Lacewell said, adding that, at busy times he thought they could use more than three poll workers at the site.
“It’s challenging but I’d definitely do this next year,” Lacewell said.
Sasha Izen, who moved to the area in September, received a card to vote at First Montclair House. When she came to vote, she was told she was still registered at her previous address and had to use a provisional ballot.
“Most of my information regarding the candidates I voted for [the BOE] was from social media, but besides that, I always vote Democratic,” said Izen, “I’m not very familiar with the politics here, but I came here to do my duty.”
“Voting has been pretty easy here,” said Edwin Ringer, who has a daughter in public school and said his family moved to Montclair because the town was aligned with their values. “We got mailers from one candidate that were concerning and we decided to vote against that person because of the policies they’re trying to enact. The candidates’ mailers actually mobilized us to do the opposite.”
“I moved to Montclair over a year ago,” said John, who voted at Montclair’s Municipal Building. “I was looking for candidates from the BoE that represented different communities here in Montclair—especially candidates who were progressive and willing to try new ideas and resolve core underlying issues. I’ve read a lot about the difficulties concerning education around compensation.”
Before heading in to cast his vote John was reading Montclair Local to inform himself about the BoE candidates.
“I don’t have children in the education system but I feel passionately about the next generation and the education they receive,” he said.
“This is my first time working as a poll worker and it’s been wonderful,” said Maggie Joralemon, who previously ran for Montclair Council in 2020. “We’re in such a special time where school districts are being challenged for what they teach and the books they have in their libraries. It’s very important that we have good people on the BoE who know the law and can take a deep dive into some of the challenges have been happening. We need a board that stands very firmly in maintaining the school system because that’s where our democracy starts, in our schools and that’s where it’s maintained.”
Desireé and Joseph Burgos voted at Montclair High School and shared with Montclair Local why voting is important to them, especially now.
“It’s our civic duty to participate in all elections, and we do. However, this time, the stakes are greater, and we are leaning in to ensure that our voices are heard for our family and collaboratively with those who look like us, those who are often silenced and disregarded, women, children and, for generations before and behind us.”
By Tuesday afternoon, poll workers outnumbered voters 4-to-1 at Buzz Aldrin Middle School on Bellevue Avenue. One said turnout so far was lower than the initial school board election last year, with only a few hours to go before poll closing.
The polls are open until 8 p.m. tonight. Get out and vote.