The 2015 general election, with Assembly races topping the ballot, set a new record low for voter turnout in New Jersey, with just 22 percent of those registered — 1.17 million people — bothering to cast a ballot.
But the lack of interest was not universal, with pockets of high voter turnout throughout the state. The reasons why more people voted in some municipalities than in most other places were varied.
Many of the communities with the highest turnouts were in legislative districts with close races. Others got more people out because of compelling local races. In other communities, large percentages of people voting in advance by mail seemed to have driven up the overall turnout. And in still others, the high turnout percentage was likely influenced by the small number of people registered to vote in the first place.
Here are the 10 municipalities where the greatest percentage of registered voters who actually cast ballots in the November election, according to an analysis of data from the state Division of Elections:
1. Pine Valley, Camden County, 60 percent
Essentially a golf course, the borough had 15 registered voters, of whom nine cast ballots. All of those who voted did so by mail, in advance of the election.
2. Cape May Point, Cape May County, 57 percent
This small municipality at the southernmost tip of New Jersey is in the 1st Legislative District, where Democrats picked up one of the four seats they wrested from the GOP statewide. The borough had 206 registered voters and 117 of them cast ballots.
3. Corbin, Atlantic County, 54 percent
Consisting largely of the Tuckahoe Wildlife Management Area, this municipality is also in the 1st District. Of its 299 registered voters, 162 voted.
3. (tie) Mantoloking, Ocean County, 54 percent
This small municipality, one of the wealthiest in the state, was devastated by superstorm Sandy — and debate has been contentious over plans to rebuild its town hall. The election to fill two municipal council seats drew 97 write-in votes. Of 299 registered voters, 162 cast ballots, about a quarter of those by mail.
5. Englewood Cliffs, Bergen County, 52 percent
This wealthy community overlooking the Hudson River had been embroiled in a multiyear controversy after approving a 143-foot office tower that environmentalists and other officials said would spoil the scenic Palisades. The height of the tower was cut in half and the Democratic mayor decided not to seek re-election, marking the first time in 40 years that someone named Joseph Parisi – senior or junior — would not oversee the borough. The municipality with the largest number of registered voters to make the list, Englewood Cliffs saw 1,873 of 3,592 registered voters sweep into office a new Republican mayor and two GOP council members.
6. Berlin, Camden County, 50 percent
This is another community where the local government changed in last November’s election: A Republican who switched to running as an independent unseated the Democratic mayor. A total of 1,743 of the borough’s 3.508 registered voters cast ballots.
7. (tie) Spring Lake, Monmouth County, 48 percent
This beachfront community is in a solidly “red” legislative district, and the mayor was unopposed for re-election, but there was a tight race for two board of education seats. Of 2,507 registered voters, 1,209 cast ballots.
7. (tie) Avon-by-the-Sea, Monmouth County, 48 percent
Located north of Spring Lake, Avon had a contested race in which one incumbent was ousted. The seaside borough saw 695 of 1,458 registered voters cast ballots.
7. (tie) Avalon, Cape May County, 48 percent
Another municipality within the hotly contested 1st District, Avalon saw 596 of 1,240 voters cast ballots.
7. (tie) Frenchtown, Hunterdon County, 48 percent
The local election brought out voters in this small borough along the Delaware River, as a former Republican councilman ran a write-in campaign and defeated the incumbent Democratic mayor. Of 973 registered voters, 465 went to the polls.