Marlboro and Neptune Township held school board elections yesterday. Of the 45,035 registered voters in the the two townships, 2,618 voted.
By far most of those voters were from Marlboro, where over 2000 people came out. In Neptune, less than 600 of aproximately 16,000 registered voters came out.
As of February 18, there was 24,926 registered voters in Marlboro and 15,865 in Neptune Township, according to Labels and Lists. The county website says there were 45, 035 eligible voters in yesterday’s election. Where those 4,244 new voters came from since February could be the subject of a future column. In the meantime GOP leaders should take note that someone seems to be having a voter registration drive in Democratic towns.
For now I’d like to speculate about why there was a close to normal 10% turnout in Marlboro while only 3% turned out in Neptune.
One obvious reason could be competition. In Marlboro, there were 7 candidates for 3 seats on the school board. In Neptune, the 3 seats were not contested.
A not so obvious reason could be campaign spending. In Marlboro one of the candidates, Bonniesue Rosenwald, mailed out a professionally produced post card late last week which included an endorsement from Mayor Jon Hornick. Rosenwald, an incumbent, squeaked out a third place finish by 13 votes to retain her seat.
Some in Marlboro were upset that Rosenwald and Hornick politicised a school board election. I say politicisation increases participation.
With the recent and perennial hubbub about campaign spending and pay to play, few of the critics of the pay to play/PAC/wheeling system are offering alternatives. No one is talking about the public service campaign spending provides.
If not for campaign signs littering our roadways and lawns and mail boxes filled with glossy advertisements few people would know when to interrupt their routines to vote.
With the arguable exception of presidential and gubernatorial elections, the media, local and national, does a horrible job of covering campaigns. The media looks as electioneering as a revenue source, not a story to be covered as if democracy depends upon it.
Current campaign finance laws thwart participation by limiting contributions and making the process more complicated. The process is so complicated that only the most motivated and self interested contribute. Recently, pundits at The Star Ledger, The Asbury Park Press and even the usually smarter than that InTheLobby criticised the John Wisniewski/Middlesex County PAC practices for violating the spirit of campaign finance laws. Hogwash. The complex system that reduces transparency is the spirit of our campaign finance laws.
If our leaders really want to reform the system, rather than give lip service to ethics while voting for a bill with “loopholes” intentionally written in, the would create a simple system with full and immediate disclosure required.