SOMERVILLE, NJ – Somerset County is opening a portion of its Administration Building at 20 Grove St. for voters to meet with staff from the Board of Elections and Clerk’s Office for issues related to the 2020 election.
The building has been closed to the public since early March due to the COVID-19 pandemic with the exception of certain appointments. To support voters in the unprecedented 2020 election, a section of the Atrium on the first floor of the building will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., on weekdays with extended hours closer to Election Day.
Social distancing will be in effect.
“It is important that residents can get personal assistance in participating in this year’s election given the unfamiliarity many people have with mail in balloting,” said Somerset County Board of Elections Administrator Jerry Midgette. “Whether a new voter registering for the first time, an experienced voter requesting a replacement ballot, or someone wanting to submit their ballot in person Somerset County will be there to help.”
Per Governor Phil Murphy's Executive Order 177, all active voters will be mailed 2020 General Election ballots automatically, and with certain exceptions as outlined below all voting will be done by mail. All active voters in Somerset County have been mailed ballots, and new voters who register before October 13 will also automatically receive ballots.
“The Somerset County Clerk’s office mailed out close to 250,000 ballots, and continues to mail ballots to new registrants, inactive voters who reactivate their eligibility, and active voters needing a replacement ballot,” said Somerset County Clerk Steve Peter. “We are working hard to ensure every eligible voter receives and knows how to cast their ballot to have their voice heard.”
Somerset County Board of Elections staff will be available to:
Assist new voters in registering to vote. Those interested in registering who cannot make office hours can also register to vote online at https://voter.svrs.nj.gov/register;
Accept mail-in ballots from voters who wish to hand their ballot to a person. Voters will be required to present identification, have a completed mail-in ballot enclosed in the certificate and mailing envelope, and sign the registration book.
Somerset County Clerk staff will be available to assist voters in:
Obtaining a mail-in ballot whether for new registration, or those requiring a duplicate ballot because of a misplaced, damaged, or improperly filled out ballot.
The two organizations, the Board of Elections and the Clerk’s Office, are responsible by New Jersey law for different aspects of the management of the 2020 General Election.
The Board of Elections is responsible for:
Registering new voters and maintaining the Somerset County voter database to ensure all eligible voters are in the Statewide Voter Registration System;
Collecting all mail-in ballots from ballot drop boxes daily, receiving mail-in ballots directly from voters or the United States Post Office, verifying each ballot was cast by an eligible voter, ensuring no voter inadvertently or intentionally submitted an invalid or duplicate ballot, and securing the ballots until counting begins;
Recruiting and managing poll workers who staff the polls on Election Day. Note that the only way to vote at your polling place this year is to hand a worker a properly enclosed mail-in ballot, filling out a paper provisional ballot, or for voters in need of an accommodation for a disability the use of a device;
Counting all mail-in and provisional ballots and transmitting the accurate results to the Somerset County Clerk’s Office on November 20, 2020;
Conducting recounts and reviewing challenges based on candidate campaign requests and as ordered by the courts.
The Somerset County Clerk’s Office is responsible for:
Based on the information in the Statewide Voter Registration System, mailing ballots to all active registered voters, newly registered voters, and inactive voters who reactivate their registration;
Reviewing ballots returned to the Clerk’s Office by the United States Post Office for address errors, sending a replacement ballot with a corrected address when appropriate, or submitting it to the Board of Elections to initiate the process for making the record inactive;
Receiving votes cast on polling place devices for voters requiring assistance on election day following the close of polls, and counting those ballots;
Reporting preliminary election results to the public as results are reported by the Board of Elections and certifying the election results to the State of New Jersey on November 23 following a full accounting of voting results by both offices and reporting the final results to the public.
The first preliminary and unofficial votes will be available online on the Clerk's website late on Election Night, and will be updated online as the Board of Elections delivers new counts of mail in and provisional ballots. The counts must be completed by both the Board of Elections on Friday, November 20 and the Clerk by Monday, November 23 and certified that day by the Clerk.
However, at this time campaigns still have the right to challenge election results and request recounts, and as such results may still change after this date.
Somerset County has produced video voting tutorials to ensure voters can complete their ballot correctly and a comprehensive FAQ on the 2020 General Election at http://www.co.somerset.nj.us/2020General.