After workers who were hesitant to return to Election Day work during a pandemic created shortage of poll workers, an increase in pay has resulted in the state being full staffed starting with early voting Oct. 23.
Gov. Phil Murphy said in the week since making the announcement, a total of 13,500 new poll workers have signed up to work this year’s election.
“We had estimated that we were 10,000 workers short,” said Murphy during a virtual press briefing Oct. 13. “We have now filled that need and then some.”
Murphy signed Executive Order No. 266 on Oct. 6 to increase pay for New Jersey poll workers to $300 from $200 for in-person voting.
“Our poll workers are an essential component of our elections in ensuring our voters are able to exercise their right to vote,” said Murphy at time he signed the executive order. “Early voting coupled with an increase in pay for poll workers is critical to maintaining the accessibility, security, and safety of this upcoming election.”
Additionally, the order increased pay during the voting period by a commensurate hourly rate in an effort to incentivize poll workers to participate in the early voting period.
Increased Voting Hours
“We must do everything we can to ensure we have adequate staffing for this year’s election and beyond; poll workers play a critical role in our democracy,” said State Sen. James Beach (D-6).
“Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., but poll workers are oftentimes there much earlier and later than those times,” continued Beach. “This increase will be more reflective of the work they are tasked to do, including setting up and closing polls, signing in voters and helping them operate the machines.”
Under the order, poll workers would no longer be limited to serving only within the county in which they reside.
Furthering Goals on Expanded Voting Access
The move was seen as a further development in the Garden State’s move towards expanded voting access. In March, the Governor signed into law legislation that would require early voting hours in each of the state’s 21 counties, mandating three to seven polling places for machine voting in the days before an election.
At the time, Murphy said the move would protecting residents’ right to vote and would boost the democratic process within the state.
“Our democracy wins when we open the doors of our polling places wide instead of slamming them shut,” he said.
Early Voting Period
The early voting period allows for in-person early voting at designated polling places up to 10 days before Election Day. The length of the early-voting period would depend on the election.
Additionally, the number of early voting sites in each county would depend on the number of registered voters within the county, and designated polling places would be required to open for early voting on Monday through Saturday from at least 10 AM to 8 PM.
“New Jersey reminds the nation that our democracy is made stronger when we make it easier for the people’s voices to be heard,” said Murphy.
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 11,948,073 in-state, plus an additional 442,970 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 12,391,043 as of Oct. 13. Of those who have received the vaccine, 5,746,113 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state and another 190,080 out of state, bringing those fully vaccinated to 5,936,193. State officials reported 205,818 booster and third shots of Pfizer and 54,778 of Moderna third shot.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 1,335,404 doses (639,295 fully vaccinated), Essex 1,033,633 doses (495,240), Hudson 930,309 doses (448,168), Morris 723,922 doses (345,176), Passaic 642,313 doses (308,902), Sussex 169,898 doses (83,124), and Warren 111,032 doses (53,954).
As of Oct. 13, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 1,021,272 with 1,366 total new PCR cases. There were 472 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 154,643. The total number of individual cases for the state is 1,175,915.
As for those that have passed, the state reported 29 confirmed deaths, bringing that total to 24,850. The state listed probable deaths at 2,803, bringing the overall total to 27,653. State officials noted 14 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on Oct. 13, Bergen had a total of 116 new confirmed cases and 42 new probable cases, Essex 103 new cases and 16 new probable case, Hudson 51 new cases and 25 new probable cases, Morris 54 new confirmed cases and 22 new probable cases, Passaic 76 new cases and 13 new probable cases, Sussex 26 new cases and 20 new probable cases, and Warren 18 new cases and two new probable cases.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,824, followed by Bergen at 2,666, Hudson with 2,161, Passaic at 1,796, Morris at 1,029, Sussex at 255, and Warren County at 227.
In regards to probable deaths reported Oct. 13, Essex has 311, Bergen has 307, Morris has 265, Hudson has 223, Passaic has 206, Sussex has 70 and Warren has 26.
Of the 5,571,445 fully vaccinated individuals studied as of Sept. 27, 33.963 New Jersey residents have tested positive for COVID who were fully vaccinated, resulting in 672 COVID-related hospitalizations and 182 COVID-related deaths. All those are less than 1% in each category.
In the week of Sept. 20-Sept. 26, breakthroughs accounted for 24.8% of all new cases (3,000 of 13,507), 4.4% of new hospilizations (39 of 883), and none of the 137 deaths.
As for the rate of transmission reported Oct. 13, it increased to 0.94 from 0.93 for the two straight days. The daily rate of infections from those tested Oct. 9 was 5.7%; by region, the rate was 4.3% in the North, 6.9% in the Central region and 7.8% in the South.
The state reported 895 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 273 in the North, 266 in the Central and 356 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 219 are in intensive care units and 117 on ventilators. A total of 117 patients were discharged in the last 24 hour reporting period.
Officials have continually cited transmission rate, hospitalizations, intensive care units, ventilators and positivity rate as health data they rely on to track how the coronavirus is being contained in New Jersey, guiding them in determining when restrictions have to be tightened or lifted.
In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, the state has tracked 96 school outbreaks and 521 cases in 84 school districts linked to those outbreaks since the 2021/2022 school year starting Aug. 7, up 27 outbreaks and 142 cases from the week previous. According to state officials, the cases account for 444 students and 77 teachers across 19 counties.
Outbreaks are defined as three or more laboratory confirmed COVID-19 cases among students or staff with onsets within a 14 day period, linked within the school setting, do not share a household, and were not identified as close contacts of each other in another setting during standard case investigation or contact tracing.
For North Jersey as of Oct. 13, Passaic County has two confirmed outbreak with 62 cases, Bergen County has seven confirmed outbreak with 36 cases, Morris County has five confirmed outbreaks with 25 cases, Sussex has six confirmed outbreak with 24 cases, Essex County has five confirmed outbreak with 20 cases and Hudson County has three confirmed outbreaks with 12 cases. No outbreaks were reported in Warren County.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 167 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 1,327 of the cases, broken down between 718 residents and 609 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,765 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 33,836 residents and 23,127 staff, for a total of 56,963.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,573 on Oct. 13. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,983 residents deaths and 146 staff deaths.