How to Vote by Mail with Your Mail-in Ballot

Do you have questions about voting by mail in the November 3 General Election? If so, you're not alone. Voting this year looks a little different. Here's what you need to know to make your vote count.

Start by ensuring you are registered to vote. The deadline for this election is October 13. Check your voter registration status.

All of New Jersey's registered voters will receive a mail-in ballot to vote in November’s election. The hope is that mailed ballots will keep crowds away from polling places as New Jersey continues to deal with the COVID19 pandemic. You should have already received your mail-in ballot. If you do NOT receive yours by October 13, contact your county Board of Elections.

Voting with a mail-in ballot isn’t difficult but involves some very specific instructions we aren't accustom to in traditional voting booths.

These county-specific videos illustrate and the following description explains.

Middlesex County Mail-In-Ballot Video Tutorial

Monmouth County Mail-in Ballot Video Tutorial

The ballot has three main pieces:

  1. the ballot itself
  2. the inner certification envelope that will hold your ballot and certifies your signature, and
  3. the outer mailing/return envelope addressed to your county Board of Elections.

Here’s what you should do to make sure your ballot is accepted:

HANDLE WITH CARE. WHEN OPENING YOUR BALLOT AND ALL TIMES IN HANDLING YOUR BALLOT, DO NOT TEAR OR DETACH ANY PARTS OF THE BALLOT, CERTIFICATION ENVELOPE (BE CAREFUL: IT HAS PERFORATIONS, BUT DO NOT TEAR AT THE PERFORATIONS), OR THE RETURN ENVELOPE.

Open all the pieces of the ballot. Take care not to rip off the perforated flap on the smaller envelope and don’t throw any pieces away. You’ll need them all to complete your ballot.

Take a look at the ballot. You will have choices to make on the back and front, and some county ballots will have a second page. Don’t miss anything.

Complete the ballot by filling in each bubble completely. Read the instructions to see what kind of writing instrument you can use: most likely black pen (no marker, felt tip, colors, or pencil). 

Properly seal and sign your envelope.

  1. Once your ballot is complete, put it into the smaller/inner certification envelope. That envelope has a place for your signature — a certification — on the back of the envelope. Do not detach the perforated certification from the envelope because that will invalidate your ballot.
     
  2. Then add your name, address, and sign the certification envelope. The signature must be in blue or black ink. If you don’t sign, the ballot will be rejected. The signature should match the signature in your voting record (the signature that appears in the large book when you have signed in at the polls to vote in person).
    • If your vote-by-mail ballot is missing your signature or the county Board of Elections has determined that your signature does not match the signature in your voting record, your county Board of Elections will provide you an opportunity to certify that you did, in fact, cast that ballot.
  3. After you place your ballot inside the smaller/certification envelope, make sure to seal it (again -- without performating the sealed part from the flap). An unsealed envelope will lead to your ballot being rejected
     
  4. Now, place the smaller/certification envelope into the larger mailing/return envelope. Some counties will have envelopes where a pre-printed address or bar code has to line up and show through the window. Seal it properly.
    • Even if you plan to place your ballot in a dropbox or hand it to a poll worker, your ballot will be rejected if it doesn’t have the larger envelope. Add your return address to the outside envelope.

Decide how you want to deliver your ballot. You can send it by mail, take it to a secure dropbox in your area, deliver it to your county Board of Elections, or hand it to a poll worker on Election Day. 

  1. If you choose to use a Board of Elections drop box, find the nearest secure Board of Elections drop box for your county.
  2. If you choose to send through the U.S. Postal Service, all vote-by-mail return envelopes have prepaid First-Class postage in order to facilitate the proper delivery of all cast vote-by-mail ballots.

If you make a mistake on your ballot, don’t panic. You can contact your county board of elections to request a new ballot, which you can pick up or request by mail as long as you haven’t already sent in the first ballot. If it’s too close to Election Day, you may be instructed to file a provisional paper ballot at your polling place on Election Day. 
(The preceding information is courtesy of NJ.com)

Do you still have questions? Please see the State of New Jersey's Voter Information Portal.

More vote-by-mail questions are answered here on the State of New Jersey's Voter Information Portal. 

Election Day is Tuesday, November 3, know your options and have a plan! 

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