Some voters irked by special election's timing

Janet and Paul Collins sign in to vote in Haddon Heights, helped by Christine Sturgis (front), Ginny Appleby, Mary Anthony.
Janet and Paul Collins sign in to vote in Haddon Heights, helped by Christine Sturgis (front), Ginny Appleby, Mary Anthony. (APRIL SAUL / Staff)
Posted: October 18, 2013

At local polling places Wednesday, there were Booker voters and Lonegan voters and at least one Stackhouse voter, but some said they would rather not be voting at all in the middle of October, with the November general election just weeks away.

They questioned the cost of the separate special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg's death, and they expressed concern that many polling stations were in schools where classes were in session.

With the weeks-long federal government shutdown on their minds, though it seemed to be coming to an end, some also expressed disgust with all politics.

Earlier this year, Gov. Christie decided that the special election, whose cost has been estimated at $24 million, should not wait until November, when it would have been on the ballot with the governor's own reelection race.

In Haddonfield, Rich Hluchan and his wife, Deb, voted for Democrat Cory Booker, and he said Wednesday's election should have been scheduled for November to save money.

"I wish they would have taken the $24 million and given us all a check," Hluchan said.

At Elizabeth Haddon Elementary School in Haddonfield, Lourin Plant, a music instructor at Rowan University, called the timing of the election "extremely inconvenient."

"I think the governor made a political decision for his personal interest," said Plant, who also voted for Booker.

In Audubon, Stephen Shirk, a loyal Democrat and another Booker voter, said of Christie, "He's no dummy." The Republican governor, he speculated, separated the Senate vote from the November election to keep voters focused on his reelection bid.

Shirk, however, said he could see a scenario in which he would vote for Christie one day.

He said he had spoken directly to Christie at a community event, and that the governor predicted that one day Shirk would support him. Twice since, Christie had spotted him at events and asked him if he was ready to join his campaign. Shirk said he might support Christie for president - but only if Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton does not run.

The unusual Wednesday balloting did not bother Jean Threston, 78, of Cinnaminson. "I think it's your duty to vote. There are plenty of places in the world where people are fighting to vote," she said at the Community Center on Riverton Road.

In Willingboro, Republican Eugene Bradin, 79, voted for independent Edward Stackhouse Jr. of the "Ed the Barber Party."

"By voting for somebody who has no chance," Bradin said, he wanted to let politicians know he was unhappy with their platforms.

"I can't back a tea party candidate," Bradin said. They want to "throw a monkey wrench into the government. Who needs that?"

In Atlantic City, at the Richmond Avenue School, Kevin Corcoran, a real estate agent, said the government shutdown was on his mind as he voted for Republican Steve Lonegan.

"Got to rein in the spending," he said. "It's like a business. We'll throw them all out. We're all sick of it."

Outside the Community Center in Cinnaminson, Charlie Gilbert, 58, a retired steamfitter, said he was going with Lonegan because "the other guy is a fraud. . . . Newark is a cesspool, plus he backs Obamacare, and I think it is going to kill us."

Michael Snyder, 56, a sales representative, said he was an independent who declared himself a Republican four years ago to vote for Lonegan when the former mayor of Bogota opposed Christie in the GOP primary.

"We need to bring out-of-control spending into control," he said, explaining his support for Lonegan. "I think Booker will win, but if it's close, it does send a message to Booker to listen to his conservative constituents. It would force him to at least give me lip service."

In Cherry Hill, at Trinity Presbyterian Church on Route 70, Patricia Frisby was another Booker voter who criticized the governor's decision to hold separate elections.

"The way [Christie] handled this has been horrendous," she said. Turning some schools into polling stations while classes were in session potentially compromised student safety, she said.

And, she added, she was tired of politicians "acting like babies" instead of doing their jobs.


bboyer@phillynews.com

856-779-3838 @BBBoyer

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