Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Primary Pitfalls

So I go to vote in today’s primary. I was previously registered as a Republican when I moved and had to register to vote in the town I’m currently in. When I filled out the voter registration form, I did not declare a party and remained to be not affiliated. It’s kind of like saying to the political parties, “I just want to be friends and I’m not looking for anything serious.” But I really wanted to vote in the primary for a Democrat and thought New Jersey’s traditional June primary would be the right time to once again declare a party. I have this six month rule about dating – after six months, it’s pretty serious.
But wait! New Jersey pushed up its primaries to February! But it was too late to declare a party and vote in the primary, I thought.
“No, it isn’t,” said a co-worker. “You can declare a party at the polls if you’re not affiliated.’
“Really? You’re sure?”
“Yes, I am.”
“You’re not shitting me, man?”
“No, sir. I am not,” he replied. “If you’re not affiliated, you can declare your party at the polls and then switch back to non-affiliated.”
This was perfect! I can go to the polls and pull the old switcheroo on the elderly woman eating the donuts. It’ll be perfect.
Alas, it didn’t work out that way. You can only declare your party at the polls if it’s your first primary election. I wasn’t even on the voting rolls in town.
I was told by a nice elderly lady (who wasn’t eating donuts) to go before the county election board who’ll have a judge hear my case. Two hours later I’m in Superior Court Judge Raymond Batten’s court room raising my right hand and swearing-to-tell-the-truth-the-whole-truth-so-help-me-God. Representatives from the state and county argued since I filled out my voter registration in early January, it didn’t give me enough time to switch my party. See, unbeknownst to me, you have 50 days before a primary election to change your party affiliation in New Jersey. Because I opted for non-affiliation when I registered in January, I didn’t have enough time to make the change.
So the judge denied my right to vote in the primary but said I could vote in the general election in November.
Weirdest thing about the day? When I went before the judge he asked me to spell my name, which I did.
“Aren’t you a journalist? A newspaper reporter?” the judge asked.
I answered in the affirmative.
“You write for a newspaper?” he asked.
I said I did.
Sometimes reporting in a small county has its moments.

1 comment:

Kristen said...

You know, that's not what the stupid Election Board said when I rang them up to inquire about voting. You would THINK that they would know what was going on. Apparently not.

I hope you're okay.