Poll workers in Morristown’s First and Fourth wards reported a brisk turnout as of Tuesday afternoon. Lines were lengthy when polls opened at 6 am in town hall, said Ruby Green.
Same story over at the Ann Street seniors complex, where Morris County Freeholder candidate Mary Dougherty stopped at lunchtime to vote with her husband, Mayor Tim Dougherty, and their son, Ryan.
Describing her first campaign as “an amazing honor,” Mary Dougherty added: “I have met so many amazing people throughout the community who have concerns about their quality of life. And I’ve heard that keeping it positive is what people are looking for.”
Others said they felt voting in this midterm election was imperative to send a message to Washington about healthcare, immigration and race relations.
Priti Thakker, a native of India who became a U.S. citizen in 2015, spent four hours in a courtroom last year insisting upon her right to vote after a clerical mixup at her polling place.
That court order is framed on her wall, she said.
“You must exercise your right. All too often, we take it for granted,” said the realtor, after voting Tuesday for Democrats who she believes “will work for principles I believe in: Transparency, authenticity, integrity.”
Morristown voters had to choose a new congressional representative–Democrat Mikie Sherrill vs. Republican Jay Webber — to succeed Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, a Republican from Harding retiring after 24 years in his 11th District seat.
Their ballot also included a Senate race: Embattled incumbent Bob Menendez vs. Bob Hugin, a wealthy former pharma executive.
Additionally, six candidates were vying for three seats on the Morris County Freeholder board. Vij Pawar and John Creamer were competing for a seat on the Morris School District regional board. Statewide, voters also were asked whether the state should borrow $500 million for school improvements.
Michael Dougherty, a 59-year-old sales manager who is unrelated to the mayor’s family, said he does not usually vote in midterms. He came out on Tuesday because “I’ve been watching Donald Trump for the last 35 years,” he said, and wants to send Trump’s administration packing.
He added that the unproven bribery charges against Menendez seemed “a little trumped-up, if you’ll pardon the expression.”
Sharon Lynch, a 53-year-old lunch aide, also was voting in her first midterm election. “It just seemed more important, because of our current president,” she said.
Although he is a registered Republican, Paul Freeland, 63, voted for Democrats. He is contending with health issues, and said he worries about GOP plans for his Social Security and health benefits.
“They’re trying to cut them. It’s my money, and it pisses me off,” Freeland said, adding he hopes Democrats regain a majority in the House. “Then we’ll see (Trump’s) tax returns.”
Colleen Farrell, a retired human resources worker, said this election was about “the future of our democracy. It makes me emotional to say it.”
Fed up with “racism, fear-mongering” and scapegoating of immigrants, and supportive of gay rights and equal pay for women, Farrell said, “We’ve got to turn things around.”
She described Sherrill as “awesome,” but professed mixed feelings after voting for Menendez, who was admonished by the Senate Ethics Panel after a hung jury in his corruption trial.
The Rev. Janet Broderick, rector of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Morristown, felt compelled to vote despite feeling wobbly from a virus. Concerns about racism and poverty, and desires for unity and love, motivated her, she said.
“I’d like us to be a nation that attends to the needs of everybody,” the minister said.
“What’s going on is not okay,” said Nancy Gruber, a 44-year-old veterinarian. “I don’t care for the homophobia, the racism, the sexism, the able-ism,” she said, referring to treatment of people with disabilities.
Rosalee Bryan works in healthcare, as an EKG technician at Morristown Medical Center. She has a pre-existing condition, asthma, and is worried about the future of Medicare and Medicaid as she approaches retirement.
“I worked all these years for these things, and I think I deserve them,” she said.
Her daughter, Andrene Bryan, 47, came to the United States from Jamaican two decades ago. She obtained citizenship this year specifically to vote in the 2018 primary and in Tuesday’s general election, she said.
“It feels invigorating,” said the systems analyst, who considered it her responsibility to vote now. The Trump administration has not shown “integrity” in its handling of immigration, she said.
“That’s what America is built on–immigrants coming together for a bigger purpose, a better life,” Andrene Bryan said. “Even if you’re born here, we are descendants of our forefathers.”