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OPINION: Yes, Voting Matters in New Jersey

Every four years, Americans are bestowed the most cherished of rights in our democracy: the ability to choose our nation’s President.

While the headlines and coverage are primarily focused on the Democratic and Republican nominees for President, the issues and people found down the ballot are of equal importance.

North Jersey features two of the tightest congressional races in the state. Rep. Mikie Sherrill is attempting to win over the voters of the 11th Congressional District for a second time, facing a spirited fight from GOP nominee  Rosemary Becchi. While the advantage of an incumbent plays a role in any race, Sherrill is attempting to reclaim the seat a Democrat won for the first time since the mid-1980s.

The other race finds Rep. Josh Gottheimer attempting to fight off Republican challenger Frank Pallotta in the battle to represent the 5th Congressional District. The 5th, spread over Bergen, Passaic, Sussex and Warren counties, has voted Republican in the last five Presidential elections, including for President Donald Trump 48.8%-47.7% in 2016.

Besides the federal races, there are key issues being decided on by voters in the Garden State. Residents will determine if New Jersey will legalize recreational marijuana use, passing a constitutional amendment allowing peacetime Veterans to receive a property tax deduction and delaying the state legislative redistricting process. 

In New Jersey’s unique voting schedule that features off year elections for the State Senate and Assembly, there is only one race for each of the governing bodies—the 25th District made up mostly by Morris County. Appointed after the passing of his father just over a year ago, State Sen. Anthony Bucco is facing Denville resident Rupande Mehta. In the opening created by Bucco’s appointment to the Senate, Assemblywoman Aura Dunn is being challenged by Democrat Darcy Draeger. 

Beyond that, there are County Freeholder races being held for the last time before the title is changed to Commissioners next year. 

But maybe the most important races are the mayor and local town council races being held in every borough, township and village across New Jersey. These races determine the direction and character of your hometown, deserving of the scrutiny of the marquee contests.

And the truth is probably half of you reading this have already voted. As of Oct. 30, over 3 million mail-in ballots had been received by election officials throughout the state, about 80% of the total vote total in 2016.

We urge you to read our coverage of these elections and endorsements based on the character of those running, where they stand on the issues important to North Jersey residents and who at the end of the day will move this country forward in a positive direction. 

The way to vote has been changed this year in New Jersey with everyone receiving a mail-in ballot, resulting in some confusion to voters. But look around at the long lines at early voting states. We understand how the discourse and division could turn you off from voting, that your one vote will not matter in New Jersey. Nothing could be further from the truth. 

This is the opportunity for your voice to be heard. Vote on the issues that matter to you. We do not care if you vote Republican, Democrat, a third party candidate or write in your Aunt Jenny. What we do care about is that you make a choice.

Vote as it truly can make a difference.

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