I think everyone can agree 2020 has been a trying year. It is almost like you are shock proof at this point! But 2020 is not over yet. We need to vote. Regardless of which political side you fall on, you need to know the basics if you want your vote counted in New Jersey. This year is different because the majority of votes will be by mail or ballots dropped off. That means if you do not know the rules ahead of time, you may be out of luck. Let’s not have that happen.
First, you need to register to vote if you have not done that already. The deadline to register is October 13, 2020. You can actually register online this year, which is a big deal.
Alternatively, you can register by the traditional paper application. This same website above will give you the link to fill out a paper application and send it in.
Once you are registered, you wait for your voting envelope to come in the mail. You do not have to request a mail-in ballot. If you registered to vote, the county election officials will sent a mail-in ballot to your registered address. It is possible you may have even received this already as some places are starting early to ensure everything arrives on time. If you have not received it yet, hold tight. Ballots are ordered to be mailed by October 5, 2020. If you happen to register closer to the October 13, 2020 deadline, do not panic. You will still get a mail-in ballot sent to you. However, it is always better to register early so you do not forget.
Now, what are you supposed to do with this mail-in ballot once you have it in your hand? Read the directions carefully! You should receive a ballot and two envelopes. One of the envelopes will have pre-paid postage on it for you to send your ballot back at no cost to you. The second envelope has a form on the flap of the envelope for you to fill out and SIGN. Keep the form and envelope together. Do not separate them. Most importantly, fill out your ballot by filling in the circles next to whom you are voting for this year. YOU MUST USE A PEN!. Once all of this is done and you have double checked it, place the ballot in the envelope that had the flap that you filled out and signed. Seal that envelope. In order for your ballot to count, it must be inside that second envelope you filled out and that envelope must be sealed. Now, put that in the post pre-paid envelope.
Whew! Now, how do you get it where it needs to go? (1) You can put it in a regular mail box like you do any other envelope. If doing this, do it sooner than later. Otherwise, (2) there are drop boxes being set up around the counties that you can drop your ballot in. Election Day is November 3, 2020. Ballots can be put into the drop boxes until 8pm that night.
(3) you can deliver your ballot in person to your county Board of Elections.
Finally, (4) you can bring your completed ballot to your polling place on Election Day (November 3, 2020) between the hours of 6:00 am-8:00pm. ONLY THE ACTUAL VOTER CAN BRING THE BALLOT TO THE POLLING PLACE. You can not have someone else bring your ballot to the polling place.
Now, with all of these options, how do you know if your ballot even arrived? Good news! You can track your ballot to make sure it is received.
MAKE SURE YOU ARE HEARD IN 2020!