OCEAN COUNTY, NJ - News that New Jersey voters would primarily use mail-in ballots for the November general election comes with its share of controversy. Many Ocean County voters received their ballots this past week and have questions about them.
First and foremost, the deadline to register for the November 3 election is October 13. Registration is accepted online by visiting this website. Prospective voters will need their driver’s license number or non-driver identification number – or social security number to register.
Those without computer access may prefer calling the Ocean Board of Elections at 732 929-2167 to find alternate means of registering for the election. Voters can also verify they are registered or print out applications.
Select polling locations will be open throughout Ocean County and can be determined by the voter’s address. Voters can create a profile on this state website to ascertain where poll workers will be assigned for this election. It may NOT be their regular voting location.
The ability to cast ballots in voting booths is limited to those with disabilities. The Board of Elections requires voters to fill out and sign a disability form. Eligible voters who opt to do this should not have returned their mail-in ballot.
“For each potential machine voter, the Board of Election must be contacted to verify the voter’s ballot status,” shared Kevin Enright, of the Ocean County Board of Elections.
Mail-in ballots are not normally accepted at the polls, however this election is the exception. Poll workers will take them and place them in a designated collection container.
Provisional ballots will be available for those who show up at the polls without their mail-in ballots and who are not eligible to vote on the machines. Provisional ballots are counted last to prevent individual voters from voting twice.
Dedicated boxes have been set up throughout the county to accept mail-in ballots and are already available for use. These include five locations in Lakewood, Manahawkin, Toms River, Brick, and Manchester. Some voters have expressed concerns about the safety of dropping their ballots in the boxes.
According to Enright, the boxes are emptied daily by a staff Republican and staff Democrat. This is done without exception. Access to every drop box is blocked at the same time as the polls – at 8pm on election night.
“All drop boxes are under 24-hour surveillance,” Enright stated. “The slot opening prevents oversized objects from being inserted into them.”
Voters may also return their ballots using the United States Postal Service. There are no party designations on the envelope and the ballots are sent in by first class mail. Ballots will be counted that are postmarked by Election Day, November 3rd and received within 48 hours after the time of the closing of the polls.
The Ocean County Board of Elections will also accept mail-in ballots at their location. Anyone with further Vote-By-Mail questions should contact the Ocean County Clerk’s office at 732 929-2018. Voters may drop off ballots as soon as they complete them.
If someone other than the voter mails or brings in the ballot to the Board of Election, they should complete the "bearer portion" on the envelope as described on the ballot envelope.
Those who wish to check the status of their vote by mail ballot can call 1-877-NJ-VOTER or use this link to track it.
The mail-in ballots come with a list of instructions. Voters are cautioned to follow them in order to ensure their vote counts.
Preliminary results will come out on election night. Mail-in ballots are quickly scanned and some even counted before Election Day begins.
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