MIDDLETOWN — Republican Assemblyman Gerry Scharfenberger on Sunday advised protesters against Gov. Phil Murphy's plan for a mostly-mail-in November election to return their ballots to county drop boxes, and to be alert for what he said could be signs of fraud.

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Every registered voter in the state will receive a ballot in the mail that can be returned via the U.S. Mail or at the drop box. Every town must provide a location to cast a ballot in person; anyone who shows up will cast a provisional paper ballot, which would be counted once election officials verify the same person hasn't already voted by mail.

Gov. Phil Murphy has said the plan, enacted by executive order, ensures that as the coronavirus pandemic continues, voters "do not have to make a decision between exercising their right to vote and protecting their well-being.”

Scharfenberger, a Republican from the 13th Legislative District in Monmouth County, told New Jersey 101.5 he is "trying to calm people down and reassure them that there are steps they can take to ensure that their vote is received and counted."

Scharfenberger said he "deputized" crowd of about 60 in Bodman Park near the governor's home, telling them to watch for instances of irregularity such as a ballot being received at a residence for someone who moved years ago or someone who is deceased.

"I know of instances where someone who was recently married got two ballots for the primary, where they had their maiden name and their married name," Scharfenberger said.

Fraud or other problems should be reported immediately to a county clerk, according to the Assemblyman.

He advised voters to return their ballots as quickly as possible to help counties get a jump on counting and to use the system that will be in place to track votes.

Scharfenberger is co-sponsor of a bill with Assemblyman Jon Bramnick that would mandate early in-person voting be made available for the 2020 election, starting 14 days before Election Day . He also sponsored a resolution urging primarily in-person voting in the 2020 election.  Both were referred to the Assembly State and Local Government Committee.

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