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Thanks for civic dedication

Without question, 2020 has been a year of unique and unprecedented circumstances. The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in the deaths of over 200,000 Americans — including over 1,900 Essex County residents. Those numbers, tragically, are continuing to rise. Additionally, as shown by demonstrations in communities throughout Essex County and across the nation, there is an awakened call in our country to address racial injustice and systemic racism. These critical issues have magnified the importance of the 2020 general election. As individual citizens, we must participate in the political process and vote. Conjointly, we as leaders in government must do our part to facilitate fair, safe and secure elections. 

On Nov. 3, Essex County had poll locations open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Traditionally, many of the staffers who work these locations on Election Day are senior citizens. Due to legitimate health concerns regarding COVID-19, many poll workers decided against working the election. This created a need for staffing help and an opportunity for a new group of citizens to give back to the community. I was happy to work with the clerk of the Essex County Board of Elections, Linda von Nessi, in issuing a call to all interested area residents to sign up and work as poll workers on Election Day. We started the initiative on Aug. 28, and by early October we secured more than enough poll workers to adequately staff all Essex County locations.

In addition to properly staffing our polling locations on Election Day, it was also imperative that our vote-by-mail process was effective and user-friendly. I thank our Essex County clerk, Chris Durkin, and his office for their stellar work on this challenging and extremely vital aspect of the election. Many people had already cast their vote early through the vote-by-mail process. Nationally, as of Oct. 23, more than 51 million people voted early, surpassing 2016’s overall early vote total.

I thank everyone who answered the call to work as an Essex County poll worker on Election Day, and I thank all fellow citizens in advance for exercising your civic duty, and encouraging your family, friends and neighbors to do the same. The direction our government takes, and the measures put in place to address our health and socioeconomic challenges, was determined when we spoke as a nation on Nov. 3.

Brendan W. Gill

President of the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders

Rally to count all votes

Montclair will be ready if any candidate tries to undermine the presidential election or prevent every vote from being counted. Residents have formed an ad-hoc group, Protect the Vote Montclair, and have preemptively organized a rally to be held on Friday, Nov. 6, at 3 p.m. in Watchung Plaza. Organizers hope to draw concerned citizens from all over Montclair and will require participants to wear masks and socially distance according to state COVID-19 guidelines.  

It is unlikely that we will know the winner of the election on Nov. 3. Each state must certify their results, and given the complexity of mail-in voting, Americans must be patient as we await the final tally. If a candidate or a media outlet prematurely declares a winner and seeks to halt the full and fair count of every vote, we must be ready to mobilize, get into the streets and make our voices heard

We hope both sides will abide by the rule of law and accept the legitimate results of the 2020 election. But if either side seeks to stoke chaos and fear in hopes of undermining the election, communities throughout New Jersey and across the nation are ready to activate. Montclair will join the call and demand that every vote be counted!

Protect the Vote Montclair invites residents to join together on Friday in Watchung Plaza to demand that all the votes are counted. The outcome and aftermath of the election will be highly dynamic and fluid, and organizers stress the need to be flexible and prepared for action. 

Please spread the word to your friends and neighbors so Montclair can play its part in sending a national message that all votes must be counted.

This is an event that we hope to cancel. Organizers are hopeful that the integrity of the election will be protected, that the rule of law will stand, and that the rally will be unnecessary. 

To receive updated details and up-to-the-minute information, join our Facebook group: www.facebook.com/groups/ProtectTheVoteMontclair/ or email jamescotter@comcast.net or johnsullivan73@gmail.com.

We will abide by all state and CDC guidelines for COVID-19 safety and require all participants to wear masks and socially distance. 

James Cotter and 

John Sullivan

Montclair