NJ voters face array of down-ballot choices

November 6, 2012 3:39:26 AM PST
Polls opened Tuesday in New Jersey, where officials have made adjustments for voters because of power outages and destruction caused by Superstorm Sandy.

Besides the obvious - a vote for president - New Jerseyans who go to the polls Tuesday will have several additional choices to make, including two ballot questions and, for the first time ever in November, which local school board candidates to elect.

All New Jerseyans will be faced with a choice for U.S. Senate in a low-profile contest between Bob Menendez, the incumbent Democrat, and Joe Kyrillos, a Republican state lawmaker. The race has garnered little attention until a flurry of 11th-hour ads popped up in the final week.

New Jersey residents also will vote for a congressional representative. Congressional redistricting completed last year made New Jersey's 12 congressional districts less competitive, and therefore safer for the incumbents seeking re-election.

New Jersey lost one congressional district in the redistricting process because the state grew less quickly than some others. The biggest battle that ensued, over representation in the 9th District comprising parts of Bergen, Passaic and Hudson counties, was fought during the Democratic primary in June.

The state's congressional representation is expected to be evenly divided after Tuesday, with six Democrats and six Republicans.

Voters also will find races specific to their county or town. Some will find a county-specific ballot question, like in Mercer, where voters are being asked if they want an open space allocation formula that does not increase a previously approved levy.

In most towns, New Jerseyans also will vote for members of their local school board. The Legislature allowed school elections to be moved from April to November to increase turnout and cut costs for towns, eliminating the need for a spring election.

All voters will be asked to weigh in on two public questions. The first seeks approval to borrow $750 million for capital projects at the state's colleges and universities designed to improve facilities and increase academic capacity. The second asks voters to amend the state constitution so that all judges and justices can be required to contribute more toward their pensions and health benefits.

The Secretary of State, who oversees elections, has made provisions for those displaced by Superstorm Sandy to vote at their county clerk's office or by fax or email.

If they have any questions about where they should vote, residents can text WHERE to 877877 or log onto N.J. Elections.

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