Ballot Basics: Polls Open Today

New Jersey residents vote in presidential primary and other races.


The New Jersey State Primary Election is taking place today, June 5. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

New Jersey runs a closed primary, which means only voters who are registered with a political party prior to the election, not independents, may vote.

Registered Republicans and Democrats will have a chance to support candidates seeking candidacy for local, state and federal offices in the November General Election. 

To find your polling place for Tuesday's primary: the New Jersey Division of Elections website lets you find your polling place and voting information information by filling out an online form with your: Street Number, Street Name, City and County or Street Address, Street Name and Zip Code. If an exact match is found in the state's records, you will be provided with your Polling Place, Voting Area District and the County Election Official information.

If no match is found, call the Municipal Clerk’s Office (973-325-4155) for your polling place. Residents can also find their polling place here.

Report voting problems or questions to the Essex County Board of Elections at 973-621-5071 or the Superintendent of Elections at 973-621-5061.

Essex County Sheriff 

Seeking the Democratic nomination for a three-year term to head up the Essex County Sheriff's Office are incumbent Armando Fontoura, who is currently the longest-serving sheriff in Essex County history; John Arnold, a former Newark police officer and a retired captain from the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office; Herman Rivera, a retired sheriff’s detective; and Roger Terry, who had served as deputy chief of the Montclair Police Department until his retirement. 

Republican Orlando Mendez is running unopposed. 

Presidential primaries

In the presidential primary, a number of candidates appearing on the ballot are no longer running: the three former Republican candidates for President of the United States besides Mitt Romney, who officially gained enough pledged delegates to earn his party’s nomination late last month. 

By then, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum had all officially left the race. Ron Paul, however, still continues to be Romeny's only adversary, and continues to amass delegates in hopes of having a voice at the Republican National Convention this summer. 


One of New Jersey’s two seats in the US Senate is in contention this year, the one now occupied by Robert Menendez of Union City, a Democrat who is running unopposed for his party’s nomination. He shares the top ballot line with incumbent President Barack Obama, who has long been designated his party’s nominee and is also running unopposed. 

On the Republican side, Joe Kyrillos -- running on the same line as presidential nominee Mitt Romney -- Bader Qarmout, David Brown and Joe Rullo are all seeking their party’s nomination for Senate. 

Kyrillos, who has close times to Gov. Chris Christie, became the anointed party standard bearer early on so no other prominent Republicans got in the race. As a result, his three opponents have had a tough time getting attention. There was not even one GOP debate.

Qarmout got the endorsement of several local Tea Party groups, as well as the National Rifle Association. Rullo founded a solar energy firm and ran unsuccessfully for Congress in the past. Brown is an inventor who tried to run for governor in 2009 but got booted from the ballot.

Kyrillos has been focused on Menendez since the campaign began and none of the pundits expects Menendez to lose today.


West Orange was redistricted after the 2010 Census and is now split between the 10th and 11th Congressional districts. The township was formally split between the 10th and 8th Congressional districts.

One of the most hotly contested races this year is the Democratic Party nomination for the 10th Congressional District seat, which is being sought by six candidates. The district includes much of Newark as well as parts of West Orange, Montclair and Bloomfield, as well as all of Irvington, East Orange, Glen Ridge, South Orange and Maplewood in Essex County. The district also includes part of Union County and  portions of Jersey City and Bayonne in Hudson County. 

Brian Keleman of Bayonne is running uncontested for the Republican Party nomination. 

The 10th District seat opened up following the death of incumbent Donald Payne Sr. in March. Payne’s death has resulted in an unusual circumstance: candidates can run for two separate offices, one for the remaining few weeks of Payne’s last term and the other for the new, two-year congressional term, which officially begins in January 2013. 

Three of the Democratic candidates are running for both offices, while the other three are only seeking the nomination to run for the term that begins in 2013. If a candidate wins the nomination to run for both the remaining term and the new term, then goes on to win the general election in November, that candidate will take office a few weeks later. 

There is also the possibility that one candidate will win the Democratic nomination to serve out the remainder of Payne’s unexpired term and another candidate will win the Democratic nomination to run for the new term to begin in 2013. Only three of the candidates -- Irvington Mayor Wayne Smith, Newark Municipal Councilman Ron Rice and Donald Payne Jr., Rice’s colleague on the Newark governing body and son of the late congressman -- are all seeking to win both offices.

Should either Payne, Smith or Rice win the "remainder" nomination but not the  race for a full term, however, it is likely that the partly successful candidate would withdraw from the congressional race altogether. All three men already hold elected office, and the winner would be forced to surrender his  post (members of Congress can hold no other elected office) in order to hold the 10th District seat for just a few weeks, from mid-November until early January, when the congressperson-elect would then be sworn in for the full term. 

The three other Democratic candidates -- Cathy Wright of Newark, a former manager at AT&T, Dennis Flynn of Glen Ridge, an Air Force veteran, and state Sen. Nia Gill of Montclair -- are only seeking the new term. Keleman, the Republican candidate, is also only running for the term beginning in 2013. 

Political observers expect little more than 400,000 voters to show up to vote today in this year’s primary.

If that number turns out to be right, it would mean less than 10 percent of voters went to the polls or only 15 percent of registered Republicans or Democrats. Nevertheless, there are 60 candidates and 17 contested races in the state for federal offices.

Read the full story in NJ Spotlight, an online news service providing insight and information on issues critical to New Jersey.

Information on all the candidates and the races, as well as district maps, a link to find local polling places and other election information, is available from NJ Spotlight’s Voter Guide.

Colleen O'Dea contributed to this article. 

Jack M June 05, 2012 at 06:26 PM
Are you stupid? Ron Paul is still in the race. What lies and garbage you spread all to get your way.
Mike D'Onofrio (Editor) June 05, 2012 at 06:49 PM
You're right, Jack M! Ron Paul is still in the race. Thanks for the update. The correction has been made in the story.
Cynthia Cumming June 05, 2012 at 07:06 PM
Thanks for the article... though we received the ballot in the mail, it was a little confusing.


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