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To Seabrook voters, every election matters

Area’s most influential precincts encourage voting in ‘off’ year

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October 26th, 2010

Every election is a big election, says Gary Baldwin, Borough Council president who lives at Seabrook, an Erickson Living community in Tinton Falls. Even though we re retired, we still have a voice in the government and the community, and we want to be heard.

Convenience and compassion

Seabrook, a community of nearly 1,500 people and two voting precincts, consistently scores the highest voter participation rate in the Borough (51% in 2007 compared to 17% in the next highest precinct). Baldwin says some people attribute the community s high voter participation to convenience. Within the two precincts, we have two electronic voting machines, he says. Additionally, the League of Women Voters visits the community six to eight weeks before registration deadlines to register voters. However, he says, When you compare 51% to 17%, you have to say it s more than just convenience. The majority of people here pay attention to what s going on. We care. For example, according to Baldwin and Jack Cunningham, chairman of the Tinton Falls planning board and Seabrook neighbor, the number of yes votes from Seabrook for the local school board budget has historically swung the vote in Tinton Falls. We have carried the school board budgets over the top every year, which shows we care about the children, and we know the importance of the schools, Baldwin says. To Cunningham, another aspect affects voter participation at Seabrook: People in our age group served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Because they endured these wars, they feel very strongly toward exercising their right to vote. According to the New Jersey Division of Elections, 13% of the Monmouth County population over age 65 voted in 2009.

Seabrook matters

As a result of Seabrook s electoral strength, candidates visit the community. We are a major voting block, and candidates know that, Cunningham says. Additionally, Seabrook s campus atmosphere makes it easy for politicians to speak to the masses. The community has an auditorium that seats 250 people and can video and broadcast the visit to numerous other residents in their Seabrook apartment homes. Seabrook voters appreciate the visits because, while they require very few services from the Borough the community provides 24-hour maintenance and houses all the major amenities of a small village For the things we do need, we want to be heard, Baldwin says. Past politicians who have visited Seabrook include Senator Jennifer Beck, Assemblyman Declan O Scanlon, Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, Governor Jon Corzine, Governor Chris Christie, Senator Ellen Karcher, and Representative Rush Holt.

Local election changes

In May 2010, the Borough Council approved an ordinance to move municipal elections from May to November to coincide with general elections. They intend to save money and increase voter participation in the Borough. This change will not take place until November 2011. Baldwin says increasing voter turnout for municipal elections is vital. The county government is just as important as the national government, he says. The local government directly impacts everyone here, which isn t necessarily the case with national government, adds Cunningham. They run the home activities, the everyday activities that affect each of us in the municipality.

Vote at home

On November 2, Seabrook s two clubhouses will transform into polling locations for their neighborhood residents. The municipal clerk s office provides voting officials, two electronic voting booths per clubhouse, and the cost of running the operation. To apply for a civilian absentee ballot, contact the Monmouth County Clerk at 300 Halls Mill Rd., Freehold, NJ 07728-8834, or call 732-431-7790.

2010 official general ' election candidates

U.S. House of Representatives

Robert E. Andrews (incumbent) Democrat Dale Glading Republican Margaret M. Chapman Time for Change Mark Heacock Green Party Nicky I. Petrutz Defend American Constitution

State Senate

Donald W. Norcross Democrat Harry E. Trout Republican Christopher J. Weag N.J. Tea Party

General Assembly

Gilbert Whip Wilson Democrat Barbara A. Gallagher Republican
Source: New Jersey Division of Elections

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