CLARK, NJ -  Those seeking to vote in-person this November have two choices and neither involves using an actual voting machine unless they are handicapped according to Clark Township Clerk Edie Merkel. 

Merkel said very limited polling locations will be open this year. When voters arrive, they will be given the opportunity to turn in their mail-in-ballot to a poll worker or vote on a provisional paper ballot on site that day.

“Provisional ballots were originally designed to be used as a way for registered voters to vote when they didn’t appear on the books at polling location.” Merkel said.  “Sometimes people would move and forget to update their address, or a person didn’t appear on the list of registered voters at a polling location for some reason, provisional ballots gave them a way to vote,” she said. 

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Merkel said since this year’s primary election was also switched to mail-in voting, provisional ballot use has expanded to give anyone who shows up at the polls a way to vote.  She was quick to explain that provisional ballots take longer to be counted because each has to be verified.  This includes verifying a person is a registered, eligible voter and that they have not already submitted a mail-in ballot.   

Asked her thoughts on the security of provisional ballots, Merkel said, “I feel Union County has integrity, they verify their ballots, I have confidence in what they do.”

“Provisional ballots are really just a mechanism for voting in the upcoming election if you really don’t want to vote by mail,” said Merkel.  

For those uneasy about sending their ballot through the mail, Merkel said she highly recommends Clark voters consider using one of the secured ballot boxes around Union County to drop their mail-in ballots as soon as they are distributed in early October.   Ballots in these boxes are collected daily and under 24-our surveillance.  Merkel said she is working with Union County to try to get an additional box in the township.

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