New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has ordered the 2020 General Election on Nov. 3 to be a mostly vote-by-mail election due to concerns regarding the spread of COVID-19.
Since most voters have never before cast their ballots by mail and recognizing a large increase of newly registered voters who may never have voted before, The Press of Atlantic City is offering this guide to help voters navigate the new and changed rules.
— Compiled by The Press Staff
When is election day?
Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Registered voters who do not receive a vote-by-mail ballot or who prefer to vote in person may cast a paper ballot at their designated polling location.
Other key dates
Oct. 13: Voter registration deadline
Nov. 3: Vote-by-mail deadline.
Before you vote
Who is eligible to vote?
To register in New Jersey you must:
• be a citizen of the United States
• be at least 17 years old (you must be 18 by date of election)
• be a resident of the state and county 30 days before the election
• not be incarcerated
How do I register to vote?
You also can download the postage-paid forms to register in your county, in English or Spanish, at nj.gov/state/elections/voter-registration.shtml
How do I receive a ballot if I’m away at college or in the military?
If not living in your home county, contact your home county registrar to change your mailing address for vote-by-mail ballots. Previously, these would have been absentee ballots. The term “absentee ballot” was changed in July 2009 and was replaced by the vote-by-mail-ballot law that allowed a voter to request a ballot by mail for any reason.
For complete treatment of military voting, see fvap.gov/military-voter.
Casting your vote
Will I be able to vote in person?
If you vote in person at your polling place, you will be given a provisional paper ballot. Machine voting will be available only for those who have a disability that prevents them from using a paper form.
The state has required that at least half of a county’s regular polling places be open, and there be at least one polling place open in each municipality.
Where can i find my polling place?
Registered voters will receive a postcard in the mail stating their polling place. The information also is available on your county clerk or board of elections websites. You can also visit, voter.svrs.nj.gov/polling-place-search
Am I required to wear a mask if I go to the polls?
All voters are asked to wear a mask and follow social-distancing guidelines.
How can I turn in my mail-in ballot?
• By mail: Postmarked by Nov. 3
• Secure drop box: Placed in a drop box at multiple locations in each county by 8 p.m. Nov. 3
• In person: Delivered to your county’s board of elections by 8 p.m. Nov. 3
They also can be delivered to a poll worker on Election Day, but only if the voter goes to his/her assigned polling place and leaves only his/her personal ballot. Voters cannot drop off ballots for others at polling places.
Can I turn in someone else’s ballot?
A voter my designate a person as bearer, to take his or her ballot to a drop box, post office or to the board of elections. A bearer can only transport three ballots in addition to his or her own. New amendments to state law allow voters to act as bearers for up to five others, if they are immediate family members or are residing in the same household as the bearer.
How can a find a drop box?
Secure drop boxes are located in several municipalities throughout each county. For a complete list of drop boxes by county, visit PressofAC.com.
How can I track my ballot?
Sign up for an account at nj.gov/state/elections/vote-track-my-ballot.shtml
How do I complete my vote-by-mail ballot?
All active registered voters will be sent a vote-by-mail ballot. The envelope will contain the following items:
• Inner envelope with an attached certificate
• Postage-paid mailing envelope
1. Completely fill in the oval next to each of your selections in blue or black ink on your ballot.
2. Fill in and sign the certificate. Most importantly, DO NOT detach it from the inner envelope.
3. Place your ballot into the certificate envelope.
4. Place the certificate envelope inside the postage-paid mailing envelope.
5. Return ballot either by mail or in person or place it in a drop box.
See a video of these steps at PressofAC.com.
What if i make a mistake on my ballot?
Contact your county clerk to request a replacement ballot.
what if i need help voting at the polls?
You are permitted to bring someone of your choice into the voting booth to assist you with voting if you cannot read or write English or have a disability. You also can request special assistance from a poll worker.
What if i didn’t receive my ballot?
Contact your county clerk to report it and request one be sent. If you are a registered voter and never received a vote-by-mail ballot, go to your designated polling place on Election Day and vote with a provisional paper ballot.
Where is my county board of elections?
Historic Court House Complex, 5903 Main St., Mays Landing
Cape May County
10 W. Mechanic St., Cape May Court House
555 Shiloh Pike, Bridgeton
129 Hooper Ave., Toms River
Where can i receive additional information?
Visit Vote.NJ.Gov for full details, drop box and polling locations, and more answers to frequently asked questions. You may also contact your local election officials, or call the N.J. Voter Information and Assistance Line at 877-NJ-VOTER (877-658-6837).
• Voters may return only their own mail-in ballot to their designated polling place.
• All public primary and secondary schools will be closed to in-person instruction so the facilities can be used as polling places, if needed.
• Voters who appear at a polling place shall vote via a provisional ballot, and the board of elections must then make sure the voter did not also return a vote-by-mail ballot before counting the provisional ballot.
• Every vote-by-mail ballot that is postmarked on or before Nov. 3, and is received by 8 p.m. Nov. 10 shall be considered valid and shall be counted (assuming it meets all statutory requirements).
• Voters whose ballots are rejected for a missing or inconsistent signature will be sent a “cure letter” that gives them the chance to fix what is wrong so the ballot may be counted.
• Vote-by-mail ballots are two-sided. Remember to fill out both sides. And do not detach the perforated flap from the envelope for your filled out ballot! Election workers will need to verify the information on that flap to be sure your address and signature is valid. Then they will detach the flap before opening the envelope, so no one will be able to see how any individual votes.