PATERSON, NJ - More than a month after the New Jersey primary election was originally scheduled, and as officials continue to review the results of May's local election, Paterson residents are headed back to the ballot box — figuratively speaking, that is.

In response to the coronavirus outbreak, this year’s primary election was postponed from June 2 to July 7 and will be conducted predominantly by mail. All registered Democrats and Republicans were sent mail-in ballots while unaffiliated voters received ballot applications that had to have been submitted by June 30 in order to vote on Tuesday.

Mail-in ballots for this primary must be postmarked 8 p.m. on Election Day.

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Voters can take their ballots to a secure drop box in front of the municipal complex or bring them in-person to the County Board of Elections in Paterson. Each day, up until the election, representatives from the sheriff’s department and prosecutor’s office will be picking up the ballots, and on Election Day, the town will be collecting and delivering ballots to the county as they would during any other election.

Voters will be able to select candidates running to represent their respective parties for President of the United States, U.S. Senator, House of Representatives, and Passaic County Freeholder.

“Due to the complexities and volume of a mostly vote-by-mail election, the Governor has allowed each county’s Board of Elections to receive ballots through July 14, 2020 at 8 p.m.,"said Ireland-Imhof. "The time it will take our Board of Elections to canvass the provisional ballots and complete election results could take a couple of weeks."

Another unique challenge for this primary election is keeping poll workers and voters safe during a global pandemic. In an effort to protect people from the coronavirus, the county has provided each municipality with personal protective equipment for its poll workers and everything on site will be spaced appropriately to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

Despite these new challenges, Ireland-Imhof says the goal remains the same.

“These are unchartered waters, and we want to ensure that voters have the opportunity to participate in a fair and safe election process,” she said.

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