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November 2020 Election Update - How to VOTE

A letter from County Executive Brian M. Hughes

Three weeks ago in this space, when I discussed the primarily vote-by-mail election that New Jersey held for the July 7 primary, we did not yet know what Governor Murphy planned for the Nov. 3 general election. Now that we do – it again will be primarily vote by mail to help protect against COVID-19 – Mercer County residents should begin preparing for it and familiarizing themselves with the process.

First, as Mercer County Clerk Paula Sollami Covello has advised, make sure your voting information is up to date. In an election where so many people will vote by mail, the Clerk’s Office must have current information, such as the correct mailing address, for every voter.

Under the governor’s Executive Order 177, all active registered New Jersey voters will receive a prepaid return-postage mail-in ballot for voting in the Nov. 3 general election. The County Clerk will mail the ballots by Oct. 5. If you are not registered to vote, you have until Oct. 13 to do so. Voter registration is handled by the County Superintendent of Elections, and information can be found here.

The ballot you receive in the mail can be returned in one of three ways: by mail, postmarked no later than Nov. 3; by depositing it in a secure drop box; or by handing it directly to a poll worker on Election Day. For the July 7 primary, the Mercer County Board of Elections provided five secure drop boxes around the County for voters who preferred not to send their ballots through the mail. More drop-box locations will be added soon. Drop-box and polling locations can be found here. General information about voting by mail and how to fill out vote-by-mail applications and ballots can be found on the Mercer County Clerk’s Elections web page.

You also have the option of voting in person. Each municipality will be required to open at least one in-person polling site, and counties must ensure that at least 50 percent of their polling places are open on Election Day. Any voter who chooses to cast an in-person vote will do so on a provisional ballot, and all individuals with disabilities will have access to an ADA-conforming voting machine. Polling locations will be required to follow public health standards, including ensuring 6 feet of distance and requiring poll workers to wear face coverings. 

Holding a general election during a pandemic, especially one that’s expected to generate a large voter turnout, is a challenge but it’s one that can be met. The state has presented a plan that provides for safe and secure voting, and County elections officials already are hard at work putting the necessary pieces in place.

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