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August 14, 2020

New Jersey shifting focus to mail-in voting for November election due to COVID-19

2020 Election Voting
new jersey vote-by-mail Michael Candelori/for PhillyVoice

New Jersey will send all registered voters mail-in ballots for the November election set for Nov. 3, to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

New Jersey will send all registered voters in the state mail-in ballots for the November general election, due to the continued threat of coronavirus in the U.S.

In-person voting will still be available but on a limited basis in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on election day. Voting by mail will help ensure voters and poll workers' safety, Gov. Phil Murphy said in a briefing Friday.

"The Nov. 3 general election will be held overwhelmingly through vote-by-mail,” said Murphy in the briefing. “Ensuring that every voter has the ability to securely cast their ballot while protecting public health is our paramount concern.”

All registered voters in New Jersey will receive a mail-in ballot with pre-paid postage for optional use in the upcoming election.

The November election will follow the example of the July primary, which also focused on mail-in voting. Mail-in ballots will once again be mailed to all registered New Jersey voters whether they requested one or not, and polling locations will be limited.

Voters will still be able to still take their ballot to a select polling location to vote in-person, or vote by provisional ballot in person on Nov. 3. If a resident does not bring their ballot with them, they will be given a paper one. This process of "provisional voting" seeks to avoid the counting of duplicate votes.

There will be at least one polling location in each of New Jersey's 565 municipalities.

If one wants to avoid the polls, voters can either mail-in their ballot or drop it in a secure drop box. There will be ten ballot drop boxes per county.  

Ballots will be mailed to voters no later than Oct. 5. New Jersey voters are recommended to send back their ballots no later than Oct. 22 to ensure they are counted. Ballots can be sent and postmarked Nov. 3 at the latest, and can arrive by 8 p.m. on Nov. 10 at the latest. 

However, if ballots are somehow lacking their prepaid postage, they must arrive by 8 p.m. on Nov. 5 in order to be counted.

At least eight other states have announced the same method of automatically sending voters their own mail-in ballots, meaning 38 million registered voters will automatically receive a vote-by-mail ballot. There are approximately 6.3 million registered voters in New Jersey.

President Donald Trump's administration opposes the shift to vote-by-mail for the November election. The administration even filed a lawsuit against Nevada after officials announced all registered voters in the state would receive a ballot. 

Trump is claiming that vote-by-mail will lead to voter fraud, which is actually uncommon in U.S. general elections. 

The administration has also pushed back on funding for the United States Postal Service to prevent mail-in voting.

Democrats recently added a $25 billion funding request for the USPS to a coronavirus stimulus plan. The funding is meant to help with the expected increase in vote-by-mail ballots in the November election due to COVID-19. The Trump administration opposes this funding.

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