Watch the ballots come in: NJ has live cams at election boards
The General Election isn’t until next week, but more than two million Garden State voters have already sent in their mail-in ballots to their local County Election Boards.
And a few counties, including Bergen, Hunterdon and Union, are giving folks a birds-eye view of what happens to those mail-in ballots once they are received.
Nicole DiRado, the Union County Board of Elections Administrator, says viewers are now able to view a livestream video of the ballot processing that’s taking place.
“We thought that it was important for voters — you know they’re voting by vote-by-mail for the first time — for them to understand the process, to see that it is open and transparent,” she said.
The live-stream feed shows about 20 elections workers, all masked and socially distanced at desks in a gymnasium, meticulously opening, sorting and prepping mail-in ballots so they can run through a tabulating machine starting on Friday.
A second live camera will show the tabulating machines in action once the counting begins in a few days.
DiRado said giving people a way to watch the process in action lets them see with their own eyes mail in voting is safe and secure and “that there is nothing nefarious happening behind closed doors, we want to remove the mystique behind the curtain, if you will. This is what we’re doing.”
She stressed it’s important for voters to feel comfortable with the process.
“Anything new is going to be unnerving, and the more that we can explain what’s happening and the more they have a visual of what’s transpiring, I think helps make them comfortable with the process,” she said.
DiRado also said in addition to the live-feed cameras showing the ballot processing, the area where the ballots are being prepared for counting has security cameras and “everything is under lock and key. We do have a vault where we are keeping our ballots.”
DiRado said the tabulating machines will be able to count 250 to 300 ballots a minute once the process begins on Friday. But before that takes place, “the time consuming, labor-intensive part of the process is actually opening the envelopes, removing the ballots from the envelopes and then prepping the ballot so that it’s straight," she said.
She said more mail-in ballots are being handled in this election than in previous ones.
“But at the end of the day, it is still safe and secure and our process is transparent," she said. "Your vote will remain anonymous and every vote will be counted.”
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com