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October 05, 2020

2020 Election Guide: Everything you need to know to vote in New Jersey

Find answers to questions about registering to vote, mail-in voting, and polling locations

2020 Election Politics
New Jersey Election Guide Michael Candelori/for PhillyVoice

New Jersey residents are being encouraged to vote by mail-in ballot in the 2020 election. There are several ways to return completed ballots, including mailing them via the U.S. Postal Service or depositing them in a drop box, like the one shown above. For more information about Election Day and voting in New Jersey, read the guide below.

Less than a month remains before the Nov. 3 election will give New Jersey voters a chance to weigh in on this year's consequential races. The ballot will feature everything from the presidential race between Donald Trump and Joe Biden to the referendum on whether the state will legalize recreational marijuana.

In an unusual year marked by the coronavirus pandemic, this guide will answer your questions about how to vote, where to vote and how to track results in the 2020 election.

How to Register to Vote

The deadline to register to vote in New Jersey is Oct. 13. There are plenty of way to do so in time.

If you're unsure whether you're registered to vote in New Jersey, you can check your status here.

To be eligible to vote in New Jersey, you must be:

• A United States citizen
• At least 17 years old, though you may not vote until you have reached the age of 18
• A resident of the county for 30 days before the election
• A person not serving a sentence of incarceration as the result of a conviction of any indictable offense under the laws of any state.

If you want to register to vote online, you'll need one of the following forms of identification:

• A current and valid Driver’s License or a non-driver Identification Card (ID card) issued by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) Your information will be provided to the MVC to validate identification, and to retrieve a copy of your digitized signature.

• A Social Security number To use your social security number, you must have the ability to sign on-screen or upload your signature to complete the registration process. If you are unable to provide a digital signature, you can not register online. Click here to download the voter registration application for your county.

The New Jersey Division of Elections website will walk you through the necessary steps to complete your registration.

If you would prefer to complete and submit a paper registration application, you'll be required to fill out the proper form for your county. From there, you'll mail or return the application to the appropriate county office.

If you registered to vote in the past and are considered an "inactive" voter, it means your address has come into question by the county election office. You can update your status using either the online or paper application.

New Jersey residents who are in college If you are in college have the option to register from either a college address or a parent's address. Either option is acceptable.

Voting By Mail

As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, all active, registered New Jersey voters are permitted to vote by mail in the 2020 election. In fact, voters who are already registered will automatically be mailed a ballot.

All counties are required to send their mail-in ballots to registered residents by Oct. 5. Voters must complete and return them postmarked by Nov. 3. They must received by county election boards by 8 p.m. on Nov. 10, one week after Election Day, in order to be counted.

If you did not receive your ballot and would like to receive your it by mail, you must request your ballot from your county election office by Friday, Oct. 23rd. You can track the status of your mail-in ballot online or contact your county clerk for assistance.

After Oct. 23, you will be required to visit your county election clerk in-person to get a vote by mail ballot.

If you pick up a vote by mail ballot on Election Day, you have until 8 pm to return it to the county Board of Elections or your polling place, or deposit it in one of your county’s secure ballot drop boxes.

Ballot drop boxes statewide are under video surveillance and their contents are collected by election officials each night. To find a ballot drop box in your county, you can consult the following list of locations.

Voters also have the option of simply mailing the ballot to their county's board of elections (postage is already paid) or handing it to a poll worker on election day before 8 p.m.

The term "absentee ballot" was changed in New Jersey in July 2009 and was replaced by the vote by mail ballot law, which allows a registered voter to request a ballot by mail for any reason. If you live out of state and are registered to vote, a mail ballot should be automatically sent your address on file. You can also contact your county election office to have a ballot sent to you.

Military and overseas voters should consult the this page for instructions on how to vote by mail in New Jersey.

Answers to other frequently asked questions can be found here

How to Ensure that Your Ballot is Properly Submitted

New Jersey is one of 16 states that requires a secrecy envelope to maintain the anonymity of mail-in ballots. When you return your mail-in ballot, it must be enclosed within two separate envelopes. The smaller, inner envelope must be sealed and placed within the outer envelope, which requires a signature for certification.

The appearance of the envelopes and the mailing information printed on them may vary from county to county.

To ensure that your ballot is properly completed and enclosed, you can follow these detailed, step-by-step instructions.

Ballots that are not submitted properly will not be counted.

Voting in Person

If you decided you want to vote in person on Nov. 3, the 2020 election will be a different experience than in years past.

Polls will be open in New Jersey from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., but most in-person voters will be required to complete a provisional paper ballot. Voting machines will be reserved for those with disabilities.

Provisional ballots will not be counted immediately on election day. They will not be counted until at least Nov. 10, once county election officials have counted mail-in ballots and are able to determine that there are no duplicates in the provisional ballots.

If a mail-in ballot was already counted for you, the provisional ballot will be rejected.

To find polling places in your county, you can consult the relevant website for your county, which will include a list of locations where you can either drop off your mail-in ballot or complete a provisional paper ballot on election day.

Early Voting Centers

Because New Jersey has prioritized voting by mail in 2020, voting early generally means submitting your vote by mail ballot at the soonest possible date after you receive it, using any of the methods noted above.

Some counties have early voting centers where it is possible to submit ballots in person, or request a replacement mail ballot if you have not received yours.

In Camden County, for example, an early voting center is located at the Camden County Elections and Archives Center. The address is 100 University Court in Blackwood.

To find information about early voting centers near you, contact your county election office.

How To View a Sample Ballot

All New Jersey voters will be deciding on the presidential race, the U.S. Senate race and three ballot measures. There are also a number of House of Representatives seats in contention and local races that will appear on the ballot, depending on your location.

To take a look at your sample ballot, you can submit your address on Ballotpedia to generate your custom sample ballot.

Ballotpedia also provides a New Jersey voter guide and information about candidates in various New Jersey races to help inform voters for the Nov. 3 election.

Weather

For those who opt to go to their polling places in person on Election Day – whether it's submit deliver a mail-in ballot or complete a provisional paper ballot – we'll provide a weather forecast closer to Nov. 3.

Other Resources

To follow election results in your county, New Jersey can the appropriate county link below and then, on the county page, look for the election results link.

Atlantic County
Burlington County
Camden County
Cape May County
Cumberland County
Gloucester County
Mercer County
Ocean County
Salem County

Ballotpedia has published a New Jersey voting guide with additional information.  

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