Investigation underway after teen fatally shot in Camden

Investigation underway after teen fatally shot in Camden. A 14-year-old boy died after being shot Friday night in Camden, investigators said. The teen, who was not identified, was found with multiple gunshot wounds on the 2000 block of Berwick Street in the city at 10:44 p.m., according to a joint statement from the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office and the Camden County Police Department.–174105176/–174105840/–174105176/–174105840/–174105176/–174105840/–174105176/–174105840/

He was rushed to Cooper Hospital but died from his wounds at 11:12 p.m., police said.

No arrests were made and no suspects were named by authorities.

Anyone with information was asked to contact Detective Kevin Courtney of the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office Homicide Unit at 856-397-6770 or Camden County Police Detective Edward Gonzalez at 856-757-7042.

This story was originally published in October 2020. Some revisions have been made since then to reflect the change in voting procedures. According to Greg Sarafan’s Twitter account, he’s still offering free ‘I Voted’ stickers if you contact him this year.

Inside his Jersey City apartment, Greg Sarafan sat at his kitchen table scrolling through Twitter messages on his laptop. He took an envelope from a neatly stacked pile and scribbled down an address in blue ink.

The 31-year-old was mailing out “I Voted” stickers— the tiny but popular Election Day souvenirs— to people across the United States miffed they didn’t receive one with their mail-in ballot or during early voting. All they have to do is ask —and be willing to share their place of residence with a stranger online. It’s part of a project, called the “Voter Sticker Project,” which he started a few years ago from his small brownstone.

“This is the first one going to Hawaii,” Sarafan exclaimed before slipping a sticker inside an envelope and sealing it shut.

The idea came about seven years ago after Sarafan, a general litigation attorney, moved to Jersey City from Brooklyn. He went to his new polling location and was disappointed to leave without an “I Voted” sticker. So, he bought a roll containing hundreds for himself— more than he’d ever reasonably need.

Around 2017, he decided to start giving away the stickers to people on social media griping about not getting them after voting, either because their state or county doesn’t give them out in person or doesn’t include them with vote-by-mail ballots.

The operation is simple.

Sarafan logs onto Twitter each day from his @VoterSticker account and searches for people in distress who didn’t receive the coveted election memento. He tells them to DM him for a sticker in the mail, and to his surprise, many aren’t overly wary of sharing their personal information with a stranger on the Internet.

And that small, 1-inch sticker can mean a lot to a person, Sarafan has learned.

“I think what people really get from the ‘I Voted’ sticker is they feel pride in it. It’s a badge of honor to a lot of people. Sometimes voting is the only civic engagement a citizen might have. There are people that go to city hall meetings all the time or send letters to their senators, but for most people, voting is the only direct interaction they have with government officials besides maybe the DMV,” he said.

“It’s to people very personal,” said Sarafan, also a regional coordinator for the voter registration organization HeadCount.

The geographic mix is impressive: He has gotten requests from New Zealand, England, Wisconsin, Virginia and Washington, to name a few. (The farthest he sent one was to an American citizen in Germany who voted in the 2018 primary with an absentee ballot).

On a weekday, he spent an hour stuffing envelopes for people spanning 15 states and two countries. Each envelope contains the American flag adhesive, a typed letter explaining the importance of voting and a QR code that leads to voter resources.

It’s a low-cost project, but Sarafan still dips into his own pockets for postage stamps, envelopes, ink and paper. He has been using stickers donated to him by a county in Wisconsin, but will soon run out of those. A GoFundMe campaign he created last year — which saw its last donation nine months ago — raised $2,647 to help fund the project.

“It’s really nice to be part of people’s (election) experience,” he said.

Whether a person gets an “I Voted” sticker depends on whether their local government buys them. And when 2020′s voting was largely by mail due to COVID-19, some counties weren’t putting stickers inside mail-in ballots or didn’t give them out at the polls.

Bergen County was one county that temporarily scrapped the tradition last year.

Poll workers have new and different rules to follow this year due to the coronavirus— and the stickers would be one more thing for them to worry about, said Bergen County Board of Elections Commissioner Richard Miller. The county expects over 500,000 ballots to be cast.

Other counties in the U.S., like Cumberland County, North Carolina, made the same decision. If officials do offer them in person this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests workers place hand sanitizer next to where “I Voted” stickers are dispensed.

“I think unfortunately it would be another task for our board workers to do. I want to be sure the votes people are casting are counted and provisional ballots are handled properly,” Miller said during last year’s election. “To add giving out stickers, we just thought it would be an added chore I really don’t want them to be faced with.”

Meanwhile, Hunterdon County’s roughly 96,000 voters still got stickers last year.

The county was giving them out to people who dropped off their mail-in ballots at the county clerk’s office since about 2012, Melfi said. They were also given out at the polls on Election Day.

Why keep them? It’s cheap advertising, she said. Something as simple a 2-inch “I Voted” sticker serves as a reminder for others to vote.

She buys the stickers from North Carolina-based company Bay Tech Label and shares them with the Board of Elections to distribute at polling locations as well as her office. A roll of 1,000 stickers goes for about $6.

“It’s a good investment to have people to vote,” she said.

Sarafan expected to be even busier last year than usual.

“In previous elections, people (on Twitter) would say ‘Oh my polling station didn’t have (stickers)… (Last) year, it’s everyone saying ‘I can’t believe my ballot doesn’t come with a sticker.’ Some places they do, some places they don’t,” he said in a 2020 interview. “Over the next few weeks, it’s going to be a lot busier.”

The project isn’t partisan, Sarafan says.

He just wants others to feel pride in doing their civic duty and get their well-earned bragging rights in sticker form.

“I don’t care who you voted for,” he said. “I try to make it as completely non-partisan as it can be because that kind of information— where to vote, how to vote, where to get a sticker— those things belong to everyone.”

Outside groups shatter spending records in this year’s N.J. gov’s race

Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy (left) and Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli (right) are running for November governor in Tuesday’s elections.

Outside groups have shattered New Jersey spending records in this year’s race for governor, pouring more than $39 million into the contest so far, more than double than was spent four years ago, election officials said Friday.

Independent spending in the pre-primary, primary, and general elections this year is currently at $39,209,304, according to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission. That includes $15,380,781 spent in the general election to help boost the campaigns of Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy and Republican rival Jack Ciattarelli.

More than $4 million from outside groups was spent just since Monday, according to ELEC.

“Even this preliminary total already is a 60% increase over the previous high of $24.5 million in 2017,” said Jeff Brindle, ELEC’s executive director. “For more than a decade, we at ELEC have spoken about the growing influence of these so-called outside or independent groups. This year’s election already has taken it to new heights.”

Murphy and Ciattarelli are both using the state’s matching funds program to advance their campaigns, which means they get $2 in public taxpayer dollars for every $1 raised and are capped $15.6 million in the general election.

As of Wednesday, Ciattarelli had received 94% of his eligible matching funds after Murphy’s campaign already maxed out recently.

But thanks to outside groups, there’s no longer any true spending limits when it comes to campaigning.

Nearly $2.6 million in late spending was made by the Democratic and Republican governors associations, according to ELEC. Their combined spending in 2021 has now topped their 2017 total. The RGA has spent $3.8 million for Ciattarelli and the DGA spent $2.7 million for Murphy, though the group has also donated large sums to other outside groups.

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