EDITORIAL: Nutley’s May 12 election will be telling as first conducted by mail-in only ballots

When May 12 rolls around, it is going to be exciting. It’s going to be worrisome. It’s going to tell a huge story that may have implications nationwide. 

For it is on that day — or perhaps it won’t be — we will learn which of the 12 candidates on the ballot will either return to the Nutley Board of Commissioners or who will join it for the first time. Four of the five incumbents seek re-election. Only Steven L. Rogers is not running again, as he pledged, when he first ran, only to serve two terms.

But here’s where it all gets interesting. For the first time, perhaps ever, a full municipal election will be conducted solely by mail-in ballots. Said ballots must be postmarked by May 12, the date of the actual election.

Presumably, many will return their ballots before the deadline. They’ve already been mailed to voters. But what happens if in the tally, there are two candidates, maybe more, who are separated by only a few votes. The presumption is all mailed-in ballots will arrive within a day or two of the deadline. 

But what happens if a ballot is delayed in arriving? Is there a waiting period? What if a winner is declared, then more ballots arrive, properly postmarked, well after May 12. What if those ballots are enough to change the declared outcome of the election? 

It’s not far-fetched to believe this could happen. Think “hanging chads.” 2000. Florida.

Send an overnight package to someone via the USPS — and let us know if it really gets there the next day. We’ve seen numerous instances where it hasn’t. And despite the pressures Postal wokers are seeing, this is nothing new of late. Late mail is the norm and has been for months. So to say mail delays could cause ridiculous trouble if there is a close election is a reality.

And, come July, we’re going to see this in a much larger form when the state’s primary is also conducted by mail only. Fortunately, the presidential candidates are already decided — but could you even begin to imagine if there was still doubt as to who the nominees were? 

Here’s the bottom line — this is a recipe for disaster. However, what happens in Nutley will tell a tale that will be undeniable. We hope and pray it turns out properly. It will paint a picture of what July and perhaps November would look like.

But we won’t be all too surprised if disaster comes May 12 — and in the days to thereafter follow. 

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.