SOMERVILLE, NJ – The Somerset County Board of Elections has begun scanning "Vote by Mail" paper ballots, completing 23,800 scans Wednesday, about 20 percent of the 120,000 ballots received thus far from voters.
The count already exceeds the total number of Somerset County mail-in ballots from the last presidential election in 2016 by more than 10,000.ballots.
Citing concerns with the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Phil Murphy issued an executive order earlier this year requiring mail-in ballots be sent to all active voters in New Jersey, eliminating traditional in-person voting at polling places on Election Day, Nov. 3, with few exceptions.
“The process for ensuring every voter who wants to vote can, and that every ballot counted is a valid ballot, is rigorous and detailed, but the commissioners and I have worked hard to create a secure, seamless process,” said Jerry Midgette, Board of Elections administrator.
“More than 100 county employees supported by National Guard members are working cooperatively to receive, verify, open, count, and secure every ballot to ensure a free and fair election," he added.
Every person who works at or who visits the secure counting site, including campaign “challengers” and elected officials, must fill out a form attesting to their health status, wear personal protective equipment, and practice social distancing at all times.
Somerset County Clerk Steve Peter says he expects around 180,000 ballots to be cast in total based on the ballots mailed to residents this summer.
More than 10,000 new voters have registered to vote since Labor Day, Peter said.
“We’ve provided more than a quarter million ballots to voters, and we are already seeing record turnout which will likely continue through next Tuesday,” Peter said..“We will continue to provide ballots and voter assistance at our office in Somerville for anyone who needs a replacement because of a misplaced, damaged, or improperly filled out ballot.”
To help ensure ballots are received in time to be counted Midgette and Peter encourage voters to submit their ballots as early as possible by:
- by using one of the 13 drop boxes throughout Somerset County where ballots are retrieved daily; a list can be accessed at https://bit.ly/34F6nBe; or
- Visit the County Administration Building at 20 Grove St. in Somerville from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, and from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day where Board of Election employees can provide assistance. Voters must wear a face mask and practice social distancing during these hours.
Somerset County has compiled information, video tutorials, and other support for the 2020 General Election at http://www.co.somerset.nj.us/2020General.
Voters with questions can fill out the form at https://www.co.somerset.nj.us/government/elected-officials/county-clerk/2020-election-guide/election-questions and they will receive a response within one business day.