Updated on Sept. 28
The clerk’s office estimates it will have sent two-thirds of Union County’s ballots to voters by Saturday.
UNION COUNTY, NJ — Early voting is underway as the county mails out ballots, but some voters are getting in on the race just a little too early.
Certain Union County voters have been submitting ballots they did not use in the last primary race for use in the November general election, Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi said Friday.
“The county has received at least five, but what’s happening is I’ve gotten two dozen phone calls from people in the past few days,” Rajoppi said in an interview. “They locate the ballot, and they think it is the general election ballot, but it was the primary ballot that they never voted with.”
She told TAPinto that spouses have found their own or their partners’ primary ballots, mistaking them for the general election ballots. They then call the board of elections asking why the other ballot has not arrived. Rajoppi advises them they’re looking at a ballot for the wrong election. Ballots for this election are marked “Official General Election Mail-in Ballot.”
When the board of elections receives a late June ballot for use in this election, it notifies the voter directly that they will get a general election ballot, she said.
“We want everyone to really carefully look at their ballot. Two thirds of the towns will be out by tomorrow,” Rajoppi said on Friday.
Ballots are going out in alphabetical order by town, she said.
“There are 78 different versions of our ballot in Union County, and this is an historic first,” she said. “We’ve never had a [nearly] all vote-by-mail election.”
Sending the ballots out all-together would overwhelm the post office, with the initial estimated 350,000 ballots for already registered voters in Union County, to be followed by an additional 10 to 15,000 ballots for more recently registered voters, Rajoppi said. The deadline to register to vote in New Jersey is Oct. 13.
Here’s what voters can expect as far as timing in Union County:
The board mailed the first wave of ballots Sept. 15 as required by law and the rest of the ballots will be sent by Oct. 5, officials said. The clerk’s office sent general election ballots to Berkeley Heights, Clark, Cranford, Fanwood, Garwood and Hillside on Sept. 15, officials said.
The office mailed general election ballots to registered voters in the following towns on these dates:
- Elizabeth, Sept. 17
- Mountainside, Sept. 18
- New Providence, Sept. 19
- Linden, Sept. 21
- Kenilworth, Sept. 22
- Plainfield, Sept. 23
- Roselle Park, Sept. 24
- Roselle, Sept. 25
Mailing dates are to be announced for Rahway, Scotch Plains, Springfield, Summit, Union, Westfield and Winfield, officials said. Voters should call the county elections division at 908-527-4996 if they have not received their general election ballot within eight days after their town’s mailing date, officials said.
The county has outlined the following early voting methods are available until the polls close at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 3:
Send your ballot to the Union County Board of Elections by U.S. Postal Service (postage is prepaid).
Drop off your ballot in any Union County Board of Elections secure ballot drop-off box, located in all 21 municipalities. Any Union County voter can use any drop-off box in Union County, regardless of their residence. The boxes are available on a 24/7 basis until 8 p.m. Nov. 3. Click here for a list of the ballot drop-off spots.
Hand deliver your ballot to the Union County Board of Elections or County Clerk’s offices. These offices will be open for ballot delivery until 8 p.m. on Nov. 3. Please note that hand delivery requires voters to present New Jersey identification and sign a register.
Designate a ballot bearer to deposit it in a drop-off box, or hand deliver it to the Board of Elections or County Clerk’s offices (instructions are printed on the ballot).
Walk your ballot into a polling place. On Election Day voters can bring their vote-by-mail ballot to their designated polling place. Click here for a list of polling places in Union County.
Fill out a paper ballot at a polling place on Election Day. Voters who come to their polling place without a vote-by-mail ballot will be provided with a provisional paper ballot to use. Handicapped-accessible voting machines are available only for voters with disabilities.
For more on early voting methods, including the locations of offices and ballot drop-off boxes, visit the “Early Voting” page on the County Clerk’s elections website, UnionCountyVotes.com.
To track the status of your vote-by-mail ballot, use the New Jersey Division of Elections Ballot Tracker tool. Click here for a step-by-step video on how to use a vote-by-mail ballot.
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that the county clerk's office is mailing out ballots, not the county board of elections, as previously stated in one reference.