FANWOOD, NJ -- In New Jersey, voting in-person will not take place on Election Day, unless you can prove you are disabled, you won't be able to use a poll machine. Those who are skeptical of the postal service can hand in their ballots at polling stations in Fanwood and Scotch Plains.

"Angst and frustration on Election Day can easily be avoided by voting now and bringing ballots to the dedicated boxes in at the Fanwood and Scotch Plains Libraries," said Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr. "If you go to a poll location, all you will find are ADA compliant machines for people with disabilities. You'd have to certify you are disabled, and you'll not be allowed to vote by machine. However, you will be able to deliver your vote-by-mail ballot and hand it to a poll worker on November 3rd."

Mayor Mahr says that if someone arrives without their ballot and wants to vote, they will be given a provisional ballot to fill out. She said it is time-consuming for the voter because the ballot you already received in the mail has information like name and address printed on it. Additionally, the provisional ballots will be counted last because officials are required to check voting records to ensure someone who has previously mailed in a ballot isn't trying to vote twice.

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There are four ways to vote this year. Here's how:

  1. Drop the ballot in the secure ballot box (locally at the Fanwood Library or Scotch Plains Library).
  2. Bring your vote-by-mail ballot into the polling station on Election Day and hand it to a poll worker.
  3. Deliver your ballot in-person to the County Clerk's office at the Union County building (300 North Ave. East. in Westfield, across from the Westfield Diner).
  4. Put it in the mail and make sure it is postmarked by Tuesday. Nov. 3.

"Please don't believe you will go in polls and be able to vote by machine," Mayor Mahr said. "We discourage going to the polls. The ballot is probably sitting on your kitchen table. If you lost your ballot, you can still go to the County Clerk's office and get a replacement ballot before Tuesday."

Mayor Mahr says that so far, roughly 68% of the 2016 turnout has already voted and counting has already begun. She has viewed the process. First, the outside envelope is opened and saved. The sealed inside envelope containing the ballot it is then taken out. The perforated form is pulled off the envelope that contains the ballot. The signatures are verified on the form, just like on the polls on Election Day, and then the perforated form is torn off. These sealed, verified envelopes -- which no longer contain personal information -- are then put into a counting pile. The ballots are taken out and counted by a machine (like the SAT tests) and ones in which two columns are checked accidentally are removed. Members of both major political parties are on hand to monitor the process. 

"We are on pace to match and exceed our 2016 turnout," said the mayor, who has heard reports of people who say they are going to show up and try to vote at polling places on Tuesday. "If you haven't already cast your vote, make sure you have a plan of how you will vote by Tuesday. This year is incredibly different from any other time we voted in New Jersey because you cannot vote in person."

"Anyone who tries to vote by machine is going to be upset, and it all can be avoided. If you feel strongly about handing a ballot to someone, hand it to a poll worker on Election Day or deliver it yourself to the Clerk's office in Westfield,"advised Mahr. "It did my heart good to see the process and the safeguards that have been put into place. We've never done this before, so there's angst about the process because it's new." 

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