The 2013 general election results in New Jersey became official recently, revealing a number of interesting points about voter turnout throughout the state. I would like to share some of those items with you.
The overall turnout was 39.6%. That is the lowest voter response ever in a gubernatorial election in the State of New Jersey. The lowest previous turnout was four years ago when only 46.9% of the electorate came out to vote. The turnout in most of the Orthodox Jewish districts was a little higher and varied between 40-45%.
That’s the good news.
Digging deeper into the numbers reveals even more interesting figures about races that directly impact the Jewish community.
If you live in Bergen County (Bergenfield, Englewood, Fair Lawn, Fort Lee, Paramus, Teaneck, and Tenafly) you had an opportunity to vote in a County Freeholders race. There were six candidates and only three could win. Mere handfuls of people cast the deciding votes. The difference between winning and losing (third and fourth place) was 68 votes. Were you one of the 69 people in Bergen County that sat home that day and didn’t vote? It’s a shame. You could have made the difference in that race.
If you live in Bergenfield or Fair Lawn, the race for your Assembly seats was very tight. The difference between first place and last place was just 413 votes. With four candidates running, only two could win. The difference between second place and third place was 57 votes. Were you one of the 58 people who sat home and didn’t vote that day? It’s a shame. You could have made the difference in that race.
If you live in Atlantic City, Margate or Ventnor, your Assembly race was the tightest of the three. The difference between winning and losing was 51 votes. Were you one of the 52 people who sat home that day and didn’t vote? It’s a shame. You could have made a difference in that race too.
There is a very large community in New Jersey that has many Orthodox Jewish voters. On Election Day, a member of that community decided to make a recorded “robo” call to everyone instructing them to stay home and not vote—and many members of that community listened. But the campaign staff of a candidate in a major race noticed the low voter presence, particularly since that community typically has a high turnout. The campaign staff began calling community leaders to find out why no one was voting. Do you think turnout isn’t being followed on Election Day itself at the highest levels?
As you can see from the information from just three of the state’s elections, our community had a chance to make a difference at the polls. And we did just that—by the majority of our community staying home and not voting as we could have.
Josh Pruzansky is the New Jersey Regional Director of the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center, the non-partisan public policy arm of the OU. To learn more about OU Advocacy, please go to www.OUadvocacy.org.
By Josh Pruzansky