Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 2
 
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
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New Jersey Primary Takes On Relevance as Date Moves Up

Matthew Hersh

As far as presidential primary elections go, New Jersey used to be about as relevant as, well, Montana.

That’s because up until this year, New Jersey, like Big Sky Country, held its presidential primary voting in June. This year, however, primary voters in the Garden State have a chance to make their choices four months sooner in the February 5 primary elections. Nicknamed “super-duper Tuesday,” February 5 is shaping up to be a day that could effectively decide the nominees in both the Democratic and Republican parties.

“It’s the first chance ever for New Jersey voters to play a meaningful role in the presidential nominating process,” said Dan Preston, chair of the Princeton Township Democratic Committee.

The primary registration deadline is January 15, and party leaders are urging potential voters to head out to the polls.

With roughly half of New Jersey voters registered as unaffiliated with any party, political organizers are seizing on an opportunity get voters to sign up with a party. In New Jersey, only voters registered with a particular party can vote in the primary. Registered unaffiliated voters can sign up with a political party at the polls the day of the primary, but New Jersey residents not registered to vote have to meet the January 15 deadline in order to take part.

In Princeton Township alone, an estimated one in three voters is Democratic, about one in six voters is Republican, and roughly half of the Township’s voters are unaffiliated.

Residents can pick up registration applications through the municipal clerk’s office, as well as the county clerk’s office. Applications can also be printed out on the county website, www.mercercounty.org, by choosing “county clerk,” “office services,” and finally “elections.”

Registration can be done in person at any of the listed offices or by mail, according to information listed on the state’s Division of Elections website. Those looking to register will be asked to list either the last four digits of their Social Security number, or to provide a valid driver’s license number.

Absentee ballot applications must be postmarked by January 29, or delivered in person by 3 p.m. the day before the election at the county clerk’s office, located at 209 South Broad Street, Room 202, in Trenton. Absentee ballots can also be obtained on the county website, or by calling (609) 989-6494. The only voters who cannot vote in the February 5 presidential primary are those registered as members of other parties, including the Green Party and the Libertarian Party. It is too late for voters who are already registered for the two major political parties to change their registration for the primary, but unaffiliated or Independent voters showing up at polls to vote either in the Democratic or Republican primaries can change back after the primary election.

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