Don’t forget to vote Nov. 8

By Ron Leir

Time for some election problems in New Jersey.

Well, hopefully that got your attention. Just kidding, folks.

The only problem that may occur – and we think it’s unlikely given the level of political awareness among our readers – is if people don’t exercise their constitutional privilege by going out and voting next week!

As a public service, The Observer wants to remind you that Tuesday, Nov. 8, is Election Day and that means it’s your civic duty – something very precious that our veterans fought to preserve – and your right to put in your two cents on important issues in your towns, your state and your nation.

From the top of your ballot and on down, you’ll be asked to make key decisions on who’s going to run our country for the next four years, who should represent you as federal, state and/or local lawmakers and whether to support or defeat various public questions.

Since your ballot figures to be crowded this year, in particular, with names of candidates, party affiliations, not to mention state and local referenda, it’s always best to review your sample ballot before you leave work or home so you’re prepared when you enter the voting booth.

And, by the way, don’t forget to verify the location of your polling station since sometimes they do change. Please don’t put yourself in a position where you end up at the wrong place and use that as an excuse not to vote.

If you do have questions about voting mechanics or experience trouble with a machine, you can ask one of the election officials for guidance but don’t ask them how you should vote!

Should you still feel unsatisfied, you can always approach one of the party challengers for help.

If for some reason you are challenged by a poll worker and you feel you should be permitted to vote, you have the right to appear before a Superior Court judge designated to hear election-related matters that day. Going that route may be a hardship for you but voting is something worth fighting for.

OK, so now that the preliminaries are out of the way, let’s review some of the big stakes issues you’ll be helping decide next Tuesday.

First of all, there’s the Presidential contest, featuring Republican nominee Donald Trump and his vice-presidential running mate, Mike Pence, opposed by the Democratic choice Hillary Clinton and her vice-presidential running mate Tim Kaine.

If you’ve read the newspapers and the internet, watched/listened to the debates and the commentators, digested the candidates’ ads, you’ve probably formed an opinion, one way or another.

Or maybe not just yet. Well, fear not!

Should you remain perplexed about the two frontrunners, you’ve got other choices which should be listed on your ballot, although not all of these third-party hopefuls appear on ballots in every state.

In New Jersey, here are the other candidates seeking your vote:

The Constitution Party (Darrell Lane Castle) opposes gun control, Common Core, Obamacare, amnesty and illegal immigration and “utopian environmentalism.”

The Reform Party/American Delta Party (Roque de la Fuente), founded by Ross Perot, bills itself as a centrist party stressing fiscal responsibility and electoral reform.

The Libertarian Party (Gary Johnson) seeks to shrink the size of the federal government, replace the income tax with a consumption tax, reform immigration laws and legalize marijuana.

The Green Party (Jill Stein) aims to create millions of new jobs and improve infrastructure, agriculture and conservation, make health care available as a human right and demilitarize U.S. foreign policy.

The Party for Socialism and Liberation (Gloria La Riva) wants to replace capitalism with socialism and opposes “racism, police brutality and mass incarceration.”

The Worker’s World Party (Monica Moorehead) says it “supports the struggles of all oppressed people” and supports the government of North Korea.

The Socialist Worker’s Party (Alyson Kennedy) proposes to end capitalism, create a massive public works program to upgrade infrastructure, end deportation of immigrants and withdraw U.S. troops from the Middle East.

The American Solidarity Party (Matthew Bartko) is a “socially conservative” group that opposes same-sex marriage and conscription but favors immigration amnesty and a path to citizenship and a single-payer health care system.

Moving on to public questions, Garden State voters are being asked to decide whether to amend the Constitution to permit casino gambling in two additional counties beyond Atlantic City, with each new casino “to be located in a town that is at least 72 miles from Atlantic City. Casino revenues would be taxed and used as “property tax relief” for the elderly and disabled, to help with the “recovery” of Atlantic City and to aid the thoroughbred and Standardbred horsemen in each town where a casino is located.

Additionally, voters will be asked to approve or disapprove the dedication of all from the state motor fuels tax on diesel fuel to the Transportation Trust Fund. Total revenue generated is projected at $541 million for this fiscal year. Also, all revenue from taxing gross receipts of the sale of petroleum products would be dedicated to the TTF, projected at $215 for this fiscal year.

In Lyndhurst, voters’ support is sought by the township for a $19,873,807 referendum to “undertake building alterations, conversion of existing spaces to new uses, construction of additions, building system improvements and related site and other improvements at Columbus, Franklin, Roosevelt and Washington Elementary Schools and at Lyndhurst High School.

For more information about local municipal and/or school board races, please consult your sample ballot or call your municipal clerk and/or school board secretary.

Ron Leir | Observer Correspondent

Ron Leir has been a newspaperman since the late ’60s, starting his career with The Jersey Journal, having served as a summer reporter during college. He became a full-time scribe in February 1972, working mostly as a general assignment reporter in all areas except sports, including a 3-year stint as an assistant editor for entertainment, features, religion, etc. He retired from the JJ in May 2009 and came to The Observer shortly thereafter. He is also a part-time actor, mostly on stage, having worked most recently with the Kearny-based W.H.A.T. Co. and plays Sunday softball in Central Park, N.Y.