Changes in the mail-in ballots you need to know about before November
Before you head to the polls in November to cast your ballot, be sure to check off how you plan to do so or you won't be able to cast votes for any candidates.
A law recently signed into effect by Governor Phil Murphy has shaken up the Vote by Mail rules in New Jersey that cuts down your options and in a sense make them simpler and encourage you to get out and vote.
You now have two options to vote by mail, request a ballot for one election or sign-up to receive a ballot for every election each year unless you opt out in writing.
Monmouth County Clerk Christine Giordano Hanlon says there's another change in the vote by mail laws that affects everyone.
"Every voter who voted by mail in 2016, in the presidential election, must receive a mail-in ballot this year even though they haven't requested it," Hanlon said. "People who didn't request a ballot are going to be receiving one and could get confused. The new law states the county clerk has to send them a ballot."
To make your decision clear, you'll have to write a letter to your county clerk.
"If you got a ballot in 2016, you're going to get one this year unless you opt out in writing," Hanlon said. "That's why all the clerks are trying to get the word out to be alert and look out for a letter (from the clerks office) and don't throw it out."
In Monmouth County specifically you'll have some additional options on letting the clerks office know your decision.
"My letter that's going out to our voters is going to be something they can fill out and send back to me," Hanlon said. "They could also write their own letter."
You'll need to follow these instructions closely and carefully or you may end up not being allowed to vote at the polls should you choose to do so because you haven't opted out of receiving a mail-in-ballot.
"They cannot vote on the machine. Once the ballot goes out from my office, that's it, you're not allowed to vote at the machines whether you vote the ballot or not," Hanlon said. "If you disregard the ballot, you still will not be able to vote at the machines on election day. There is an option for a provisional paper ballot at the polling location but the voter will not be able to vote at the machine."
It doesn't have to be a forever decision if you do not wish for it to be to mail-in your votes, so if you want to do so by mail this year or at the machines, you can always change your mind next year.
"I don't expect that the law will change again next year," Hanlon said.
For more information about the Monmouth County Vote-By-Mail application, click here and for Ocean County, click here.
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