“Do you want our elections to be fair and not under the control of party bosses? Do you want to have a better selection of candidates… people more like you? Do you want a County Clerk who is ON YOUR SIDE? Herb Tarbous is committed to free and fair elections in Middlesex County!”https://HerbForClerk.com
Here’s why we enthusiastically endorse Herb Tarbous for Middlesex County Clerk:
Ballot design: I am committed to taking all steps necessary to eliminate bracketing, the county line, and any form of ballot based on a line. I am committed to designing the ballot by listing the office sought, immediately followed by all candidates running for that office, as do all other states and some counties in New Jersey.
Comment: Removal of all forms of bracketing would include removing slogans and or faction affiliations from the Primary Election ballot. The ‘Non-bracketed’ format also allows for a larger typeface due to reduction of white space on the ballot. The larger typeface will make the ballot easier to read and navigate. Hands-down the superior format.
Ballot Order: I am committed to implementing a ballot draw and ballot placement system that ensures that all candidates running for the same office have an equal opportunity to obtain the first ballot position.
Comment: The technology available today would allow us to randomize ballots, meaning that candidates would not be in fixed positions with respect to their opponents. This would eliminate the need for a ballot draw as well as eliminating any advantage that is gained from winning the ballot draw. In the interim, I will always apply a test of fairness to all decisions where the clerk has discretion.
Voter participation: I will support measures to increase voter participation (eg. same-day registration, early voting) by using all resources and taking all steps necessary to ensure that such measures can be implemented efficiently and effectively.
Comment: In addition to the traditional methods, I will also encourage voter participation by encouraging more candidate participation. Perhaps the greatest form of voter suppression is holding elections where many offices are uncontested, i.e., only one candidate (or two if ‘Vote for two’, etc.) in the ballot.
Sample ballots: Voters deserve a chance to familiarize themselves with the ballot structure and the candidates on the ballot. I will support making sample ballots available online on the county clerk website no later than 30 days before an election.
Comment: I understand the suggestion and completely support the idea of clear communication and transparency with respect to the ballots and samples. However, I can also envision a future electoral environment supported by advanced technologies and processes where the long delays and lead times that are present in the current environment may not be necessary (i.e., currently primary elections are scheduled six months before the actual assumption of office). Shortening these windows would allow for a shorter wait time to assume office, which I believe is healthy for democracy. Also, enhanced processing of candidate petitions and ballot creation would allow candidates to enter races much closer to Election Day, perhaps even less than 30 days prior, I believe this is also healthy for democracy. In the interim I will use the Clerk’s discretion to communicate all electoral information as effectively and early as possible.
Vote by mail: I will support vote-by-mail for everyone in an emergency/pandemic by using all resources and taking all steps necessary to ensure that such measures can be implemented efficiently and effectively.
Comment: The general concept is to be able to vote without visiting a traditional polling place. I fully support this, not just during an emergency and/or pandemic. Vote-by-mail is currently our most reliable and secure way of accomplishing this, tho there are some weaknesses and vulnerabilities in the VBM process. I fully support the ability for everyone to vote remotely with the caveat that future technology and/or delivery/communication services may be more efficient than traditional ‘snail mail’.
Prepaid postage: Poll taxes are antithetical to democracy — anyone who chooses to cast their ballot, or register to vote, should be able to do so without spending money. I will therefore support pre-paid postage for VBM and voter registration forms.
Comment: The state should bear any and all expenses incurred in the electoral process.
Election sanctity: I will use all resources and take all steps necessary to ensure that any election (including county committee) will be prepared to proceed as scheduled without postponement or cancellation so that there will be no need to cancel an election for reasons of convenience or administrative burdens. Elections are the bedrock of our democracy, and they should be canceled only as an absolute last resort.
Comment: To take this a step further, if elected, if an organization does not hold regular elections, I will consider not recognizing organizations as the official agent of the political party. What this would look like, for example, is to reject both slogans of and bracketing requests from the county chairs who in any way cancel, postpone, or in any way nullify any elections.
Transparency & assistance: I will encourage and help anyone who is interested in running for office by providing them materials (petitions to run etc.) and guidance regarding deadlines. I will pre-check petitions submitted at least one week before the deadline for initial compliance and notify petitioners of errors, and will utilize best efforts to pre-check petitions even if they are submitted closer to the deadline.
Comment: Clearly this should be done by the Clerk. Just as increasing voter participation is a duty if the clerk so should be increasing candidate participation as described earlier. This year there was also proof of concept that petition signatures could be collected electronically which has the potential to grow the candidate pool.
Accessibility of candidates: I will require candidates running for office to provide a personal or campaign email for which they are directly responsible (not a general party email), so that candidates can be contacted by voters interested in information about their campaign.
Comment: Here, the general concepts of transparency and accessibility apply. And here again, there is the possibility of technological advancements such as publicly funded candidate campaign portals which could serve the dual purpose of leveling the playing field and creating a platform for candidate/voter interaction. In the meantime, email is a way to accomplish this.
Ballot access: I will strive to provide equal and fair ballot access to all those who want to participate in the democratic process. In particular, I will exercise all discretion in my power to ensure that no petition signature is rejected unless it is entirely clear that the law would not permit such signature to be counted, and that petitions are not rejected due to technicalities or other arbitrary factors, with the overall goal of minimizing rejection of petitions to run for office.
Comment: I would apply the same analysis and design as in my previous responses. The goal will always be more participation facilitated by advancing technologies.
More information about Herb Tarbous:
Education: B.S in Operations Research from Columbia U., post-graduate studies in Industrial and Systems Engineering at Rutgers, and dozens of corporate and professional courses related to business processes and systems engineering.
Current Occupation: Retired Systems Engineer.
Public/party service: Former elected member of Middlesex County Democratic Committee, Vice-President of Piscataway Progressive Democratic Organization, founding member of Voter Choice NJ.