In an effort to avoid confusion on Election Day, Egg Harbor Township officials are telling voters about major changes to polling places as a result of redistricting.
“A lot of things could go wrong,” said Mayor James “Sonny” McCullough. “We’re trying to get information out there as best we can so people aren’t getting frustrated or angry at the polls.”
The township’s redistricting, a result of the 2010 census, has led to major changes to its polling places for the 2012 elections. While 10 other municipalities also saw changes in their districts, an influx of new residents during the housing boom means the township saw the most substantial changes. In all, the county Board of Elections will operate polling booths from 10 new locations throughout the township.
Between 2000 and 2010, U.S. census figures show Egg Harbor Township’s population grew from about 31,000 to more than 43,000, making it the largest municipality in Atlantic County by population.
McCullough filmed a promotional video informing residents of the changes Monday. The video will air periodically on EHT-TV, Comcast Channel 2 in the township, through Nov. 6. The township has also put election information on its website, www.ehtgov.org.
“The potential problem is that so many people don’t look at their sample ballot, and there’s going to be thousands of people who’ve had the same polling places for years,” he said. “They’re going to show up at the old polling place, and they’re not going to be happy after standing in line and getting to the table to sign in.”
The sentiment was echoed by Township Committeeman Joe Cafero, who stressed that voters need to read their sample ballots when they’re mailed out this fall.
“The governing body encourages all citizens to hold on to these,” he said.
While it’s impossible to know how many voters’ polling places have changed, McCullough said, many thousands will be voting at new locations. Adding to the confusion, 2012 markes the first year the school board elections coincide with the general election.
“I worry some people are going to get to the polling place at the last minute when they just got out of work and find out they’re in the wrong place,” he said. “We don’t want people losing their vote.”
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