How to vote by mail in New Jersey

A mail-in ballot envelope for elections in New Jersey. (FOX 5 NY file photo)

Election Day 2020 is Tuesday, Nov. 3. This year's general election in New Jersey — which of course includes the presidential race between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden — is being conducted largely by mail, although polling sites on Election Day will be open, too, with accommodations for voters with disabilities. (However, if you choose to vote in person on Election Day, you'll be required to cast a provisional ballot.)

New Jersey has conducted elections by mail for certain local races for several years but in light of the risks posed by the coronavirus pandemic, the legislature and the governor expanded mail-in voting for the general election. 

"COVID-19 has impacted nearly every aspect of our lives, from our health and safety to how we participate in our democracy," Gov. Phil Murphy said in a statement on Aug. 14. "This virus continues to threaten public health, and with today’s announcement, we are ensuring that New Jersey voters do not have to make a decision between exercising their right to vote and protecting their well-being."

The state is requiring county elections officials to mail ballots and with prepaid return postage envelopes to all registered voters. If you are eligible to vote but aren't registered yet, you can register by Oct. 13. Then to request a mail-in ballot be mailed to you, fill out the application and either mail or deliver it to your county clerk's office; it must be received by Oct. 23.

The governor also promised online voter registration would launch by Sept. 4, which it has. To register, you'll need to upload a document to prove your identity. 

You should be aware of several important procedures, dates, and deadlines regarding the election.

If you apply by mail to receive a ballot by mail (if you don't get one automatically), your application must get to the clerk's office no later than Oct. 23. (Elections officials expect to mail ballots to voters beginning Oct. 5.)

But by the governor's executive order, you can also apply in person at your county elections office all the way up to 8 p.m. on Nov. 3 (Election Day). Doing this means you'll likely apply for, fill out, and submit the ballot all in one go.

New Jersey requires your mailed completed ballot to be both postmarked by Nov. 3 (Election Day) and received by your local board by Nov. 10. Ballots that arrived through the mail without postmarks (sometimes the USPS fails to postmark mail) will be accepted up to 48 hours after the election.

In recent months cutbacks, controversy, criticism, and coronavirus have rocked the U.S. Postal Service. So you should either mail the completed ballot as soon as possible or bring it to an authorized drop site. 

Yes, that means that you don't actually have to mail your vote-by-mail ballot. Instead, you can submit your ballot one of several other ways:

  • Deposit it into an official ballot drop box no later than Nov. 3 at 8 p.m.; the state passed legislation requiring municipalities to install more ballot boxes at certain locations for this election.
  • Bring it in-person to your county board of elections/clerk's office no later than Nov. 3 at 8 p.m. Note: The building will likely have a ballot drop box for this purpose.
  • Hand it to an election worker at an Election Day polling site on Nov. 3 by 8 p.m.; you may also be able to vote in person but your vote will be provisional.

You can confirm your voter registration status here and find your poll site here. (Note: poll sites will likely be changed/consolidated due to COVID-19.) 

You can find ballot box locations here (once the state compiles the list). 

You can learn about registering online to vote here.

After you submit your ballot, you can track its status here

Information for military and overseas voters is here.

If you've found this article to be helpful, please share it.

Get breaking news alerts in the FOX5NY News app. It is FREE! Download for iOS or Android

2020 GENERAL ELECTION IMPORTANT DATES

  • Friday, Sept. 4: Online portal for registering to vote launches.
  • Saturday, Sept. 19: Elections officials begin mailing ballots to registered overseas military and civilian voters.
  • Monday, Oct. 5: Elections officials begin mailing ballots to registered voters.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 13: Last day to register to vote.
  • Friday, Oct. 23: Last day for a county elections office to receive a ballot application from a general voter to receive their ballot by mail.
  • Friday, Oct. 30: Last day for a county elections office to receive a ballot application from qualified overseas civilian and military voters to receive their mail-in ballot electronically. (Note: ONLY overseas civilian and military voters are eligible to receive a ballot by email or fax.)
  • Tuesday, Nov. 3: ELECTION DAY (polls are open 6 a.m. – 8 p.m.); last day to apply in-person for a ballot; postmark a mail-in ballot; bring it to a poll site, drop box, or county clerk's office; or provisionally vote in-person.
  • Thursday, Nov. 5 at 8 p.m.: Last day a mailed absentee ballot that doesn't have a postmark "due to postal error" can be received at a clerk/elections office to be considered valid.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 10 at 8 p.m.: Last day a mailed and postmarked ballot (must be postmarked by Nov. 3) can be received at a clerk/elections office (except from military voters).
  • Monday, Nov. 16: Last day a mailed military voter ballot (postmarked by Nov. 3) can be received at the board of elections.

LINKS TO SELECTED ELECTIONS AUTHORITIES

If you've found this article to be helpful, please share it.

How to register online to vote in New Jersey

New Jersey, which is holding a mostly-by-mail election, has implemented online voter registration.

Are you looking for information about voting in New York?

Are you looking for information about voting in Connecticut?