SPARTA, NJ – Did you vote yet? Most Sussex County residents who are registered to vote have received their mail in ballots by now. The governor required all registered voters to receive a mail in ballot, whether they ask for it or not.
Board of Election Commissioner Allen Langjahr said as of Tuesday, October 13 the board of elections has received 22,193 mail in ballots. By comparison, in the 2018 general election there were 7,170 mail in ballots and 6,081 in the 2016 general election. According to the Sussex County Official Results for the 2020 primary election there are 107,798 registered voters in Sussex County.
"I am very fortunate to have the staff that I do," Sussex County Clerk Jeff Parrott said. He said the staff in the clerk's office "have been fielding 50 to 60 calls a day [about the mail in ballot process] in addition to their usual business."
There are several secure ways to submit the mail in ballot but one thing is certain, unless a voter has a disability they will not be able to vote by machine on November 3, according to Parrott. There will only be 37 polling locations in Sussex County on November 3.
“If you go into the polling place, unless you are blind, you will have to cast a provisional ballot,” Parrott said. Provisional ballots will not be counted until after November 11 according to Parrott.
In Sparta the polling locations will be:
- Alpine Elementary School for Districts 4, 6 and 8
- Sparta Fire Headquarters for District 2, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13
- Sparta Presbyterian Church for Districts 1, 3, 10, 12 and 14.
Parrott said two additional ballot drop boxes have been added in the county bringing the total to 13. People in Sussex County can drop their completed mail-in ballot into any of the secured boxes throughout the county. The boxes constantly monitored and are under video surveillance.
The boxes are emptied each day by one Republican and one Democrat Sussex County Board of Elections official, according to Parrott.
The Sussex County Ballot Drop Boxes are located at municipal buildings in:
- Andover Borough,
- Andover Township, *
- Frankford Township,
- Franklin Borough,
- Fredon Township Civic Center (not municipal building)
- Hardyston Township,
- Hopatcong Borough,
- Montague Township, *
- Town of Newton,
- Sandyston Township,
- Sparta Township,
- Vernon Township,
- Wantage Township
*Added on October 9, according to the Sussex County Clerk.
The county board of election has begun processing the ballots in accordance with the governor’s executive order. The votes, however, are not being counted, according to Sussex County Board of Election officials.
“They will not be scanned or tabulated until November 3,” Langjahr said.
Langjahr said board of election officials have logged the ballots into the New Jersey Statewide Voter Registration Statistics or SVRS archives, the official voting rolls for the state and the signatures can be verified and information corroborated with the New Jersey Division of Elections.
The mail in ballots for the general election with be handled “the same as they were for the primaries; teams of people scrutinizing signatures,” according to Langjahr. He said the people reviewing the ballots have "all been trained" to review the ballots and signatures.
"They are very honorable people," Parrott said referring to the Sussex County Board of Election officials . "They just want a fair election. They take their job very seriously."
Any ballots questioned by the poll workers will be turned over to the board of election commissioners to review. Voters whose ballots are rejected, will have an opportunity to “cure” the defect. They will be notified by mail, according to board of election officials.
Voters can track their ballot by registering through the New Jersey Division of Elections’ website.