Early voting had been in progress for nine days already by last Sunday. During the “Great Big Vote” event that day at Votee Park, which was sponsored by Teach NJ, Executive Director Katie Katz emphasized the influence and importance of the Jewish vote in Teaneck. Both she and Regional Director of Teach NJ Ben Hutt were at Votee on Sunday to encourage voting.
The event was held from 1 to 5 p.m., and the Rodda Center was open for voting almost the entire day. One of the potential advantages of early voting at the Rodda Center in Teaneck was that anyone from Bergen County was able to vote there. On the official voting day, Tuesday, November 2, voters would be required to go to their assigned polling place as determined by residence.
Katz, who also organized the event, provided some compelling statistics about the influence of Teach NJ in getting out the Jewish vote in Teaneck. “Elected officials pay attention to the Jewish vote,” she said. “In the 2017 primary, voter participation was at 16%. In 2021 it was up to 26%,” representing a significant increase. The hope was to dovetail the Teach NJ event with the Rodda Center being open for voting on a Sunday. By attracting families to enjoy some fun activities and great food at the park, the adults could go to Rodda and vote. Katz and Hutt estimated that about 1,000 people came to Votee over the course of four hours. Katz said that she attributes the difference in community engagement in Teaneck, leading to an increase in voter turnout, to the involvement of Teach NJ.
At the theater, Rikkud Dance Director Rochelle Yaros provided great music and a dance DJ who fired up a sizable crowd. Elsewhere around the park there was a photo booth, balloons, games; and the park play areas were a hive of activity themselves. At the curb near the southwest area were an ice cream truck, a food truck from Yalla, prepackaged salads and other goods from Jus by Julie; and a restaurant tent for The Wandering Que. The lines were busy for hours, but moved well. Teach NJ had a table, giving away magnets, lollipops and pens. The TVAC (Teaneck Volunteer Ambulance Corps) had an equipment demonstration table, along with actual “ambulance tours,” always a popular attraction for the kids.
Between the number of activities and the options for good food for purchase, Teach NJ hoped people would step over to the Rodda Center and vote while they were there. Many did.
By Ellie Wolf