Got a question? Buddy can help! Fill this out and we will answer them. Questions and answers will be provided here for all to learn from. When we have enough, we will group them for easier navigation. *Please scroll down to see if a question similar to yours has already been answered.
Questions from you!
Q27: Several of my friends accidentally filled out the Bearer Portion of their own ballot. Will these be rejected?
No, these will not be rejected but please know that Bearers are designated people that carry someone else’s ballot: not one’s own. In fact, 99% of voters need not worry about the Bearer portion as only a small percentage of people use Bearers to mail, drop, or deliver their ballots.
Q26: My niece goes to college in Wisconsin and registered there to vote. But she also got a mail-in ballot in New Jersey. How does the state of New Jersey know that she already voted in Wisconsin?
They don’t. However, the onus is on the voter to let their County Clerk know that they changed their voter registration and to be removed from the voter rolls. The responsibility is also on the voter to NOT vote more than once as it is illegal to do so. That is committing voter fraud. Other examples include, a voter could be sent multiple ballots in their own name, a deceased parent’s or spouse’s ballot at their address, or a ballot with someone who used to reside at their address. In all these cases, the voter can only vote once using their own ballot. ALL OTHER BALLOTS should be marked “Undeliverable at this address” and simply be put back in the mailbox for pickup. See the answer for Q24 below.
Q25: Are people permitted to mail a New Jersey ballot from out of state?
Yes. 100%. This is especially applicable to college students studying out of NJ. They have a choice to vote in the state that they are a resident at during the school year OR vote in NJ and mail their ballot using any USPS mail box.
Q24: The name on my mail in ballot is not mine- the address is correct. What should I do?
Please put that Official Election Mail back into your mailbox noting on the front “Not at this address” so that the Return Service Request can be completed. You do not need to put stamps on it. USPS cannot forward Election material. It gets delivered back to the County Clerk and they will input that voter for that address as undeliverable. You may get another election mail addressed to that voter at your address and this is another step in the verification process. If so, do the same and simply put it back in your mailbox as before. This is part of the process that helps the County Clerk clean up the voter database. Voters do not typically let their County Clerk know when they move so this happens and this is part of the process to clean the database.
Q23: According to my voter record, my ballot was rejected for the July primary. Is there any way to find out specifically why my ballot was rejected? Can this be part of the voter record?
You can find out by calling for County Election Official. Uyen “Winn” Khuong, Founder and Executive Director of ATNJ Education Fund, of which VoteByMailNJ.org is an initiative of, specifically wrote that in the bill and was passed into law in August 2020. While it won’t apply retroactively to the Primary Election, it will apply to elections moving forward. You can learn about the top reasons for rejection and avoid them here. You can also search for your county specifically.
If you find our work to be critical to improving our democracy in New Jersey, such as this law above, please donate. We are fundraising to pay a salary for Winn, since she has been doing this full time as a volunteer for 4 years. Donate to our nonpartisan nonprofit here.
Q22: My wife accidentally signed my ballot, so do I need a new ballot, and if so how do I get one?
Q22a: Lost my ballot. How do I receive a new one?
Since there’s no place to sign on the actual ballot in order to keep ballot anonymity, we are going to assume you mean the Certificate of Mail-in Voter flap where it says “Sign Here”. To get a Replacement Ballot, please call your County Clerk. If between now and Election Day you haven’t been able to get a hold of your County Clerk and haven’t received a Replacement ballot, go to your nearest polling place on November 3rd Election Day and vote in person using a Provisional Ballot that will be provided to you. DO NOT bring this Mail-in Ballot with you as it will be rejected. ALL Provisional Ballots are canvassed after all Vote By Mail ballots are canvassed ensuring that voters do not vote more than once. ALL Provisional Ballots are canvassed even in uncontested races.
Q21: I accidentally tore up my return envelope for the mail-in ballot. Where can I get a new return envelope?
Please call your County Clerk and describe your situation. Please wait for their instructions. You may be provided with a Replacement Ballot which has the return envelope for you to use. However, the Replacement Ballot nullifies the previous mail-in ballot so you will need to use the replacement inner return envelope as well. Please DO NOT mail or drop off your ballot with just the inner ballot return envelope and enclosed ballot. It will be rejected. The law requires BOTH sealed envelopes in order for it to count.
If between now and Election Day you haven’t been able to get a hold of your County Clerk and haven’t received a Replacement ballot, go to your nearest polling place on November 3rd Election Day and vote in person using a Provisional Ballot that will be provided to you. DO NOT bring this Mail-in Ballot with you as it will not be accepted in this condition. ALL Provisional Ballots are canvassed after all Vote By Mail ballots are canvassed ensuring that voters do not vote more than once. ALL Provisional Ballots are canvassed even in uncontested races.
Q20: Situation: a parent receives their college child’s ballot at the parent’s home. Can the parent 1) forward the ballot to the child 2) can the child return the completed ballot to the parent and have the parent drop it in a drop box or 3) must the child use USPS and mail it directly for submission?
- Official Election Mail cannot be forwarded, per se, as it’s a feature that allows the County Clerk to keep the voter data updated. That is, you cannot cross out the front and put “FORWARD TO [address]”. There’s instructions on the envelope to USPS to return it back to send via “Return Service Requested.” This is how your County Clerk knows to update it in the voter database and mark as Undeliverable. However, you, as the parent, can put their unopened mail-in ballot in another envelope and mail it to them. With two elections every year, we recommend college students to update their mailing address using the prepaid, pre-addressed Voter Registration Application. Find your county’s form here. We have not verified if the online voter registration system allows for address updates yet.
- The child can return the completed ballot to the parent by putting in another envelope and mailing it to the parent for the parent to drop it in the secure ballot drop box.
- The child does not need to use USPS and mail it directly for submission. They can do #2 as stated above.
All this is to say: even with all these options available, if you receive your child’s ballot and need to mail it to them, then do so immediately. There’s plenty of time with 3 more weeks to go. Your child should just drop it in the nearest mailbox: it’s pre-addressed and prepaid postage. Then it’s done! Share with them the directions on how to track their ballot online.
Q19: My husband and I have not received our mail in vote for the general election, we live in middlesex county. Can you help us? Thank you.
First, please track your ballot to see where it is. Second, call your County Clerk. You submitted your question here to Ballot Buddy on 10/07 and apologies for not be able to get back to you sooner, but we hope you’ve gotten your ballot by now. As this graph shows, the majority of ballots have already been mailed out.
As of today’s date (10/16) if you, or any voter in NJ, have not received their ballot, please call your County Clerk for a Replacement ballot. If between now and Election Day you haven’t been able to get a hold of your County Clerk and haven’t received a ballot, go to your nearest polling place on November 3rd Election Day and vote in person using a Provisional Ballot that will be provided to you. ALL Provisional Ballots are canvassed after all Vote By Mail ballots are canvassed ensuring that voters do not vote more than once. ALL Provisional Ballots are canvassed even in uncontested races.
Q18: What is the purpose of bar code and the number beneath it that begins with a letter on the return envelope above my name and address?
The unique bar code (and your Voter ID) are both part of the security features. It allows your County Election Officials and for you, the voter, to track it. Learn about Security Features here. Learn how to track your ballot here.
Q17: How do I correct a ballot if I have selected the wrong candidate? I selected the wrong BOE member and I don’t want to make a change and have the whole ballot disqualified. Can I cross it out? Id rather vote for no one than the wrong person. TIA for your help.
If you have completed your ballot and marked the wrong candidate, call your County Clerk for a Replacement Ballot. Describe your situation. Retain the envelopes and the original ballot until your new Replacement Ballot arrives.
Q16: Ballot does not specify required writing device e.g blue/black pen/pencil? Please advise.
If no specifications or requiremtns, you can use any of those three options. Note that the myth of “they can erase your vote” is 100% false. Do not hesitate to use a pencil if the instructions say to use a #2 pencil. (Remember those SAT/Scantron days?)
Q15: My mail carrier told me she would not take my ballot unless I signed as the bearer on the outer envelope. So I signed it. Now I realize that was wrong. Should I call the county board of elections to ask for a new ballot? Cumberland county
Please call the Cumberland County Board of Elections and describe your situation. You may be referred to your County Clerk for a Replacement Ballot. Please file a complaint with USPS as well so that they can educate their mail carriers. Voters are NOT Bearers of their own ballot. A Bearer is another person that the voter designates to take their ballot from them to either mail, drop, or deliver.
Q14: Can someone wear a “Ruth sent me” shirt to the polls, or is that electioneering?
That is not electioneering. We (ATNJ Education Fund) wrote the specific language in the bill to include the paragraphs you see below, expanding it to include political gear from campaigns, candidates, or political parties. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg does not fit into any of those categories as she does not represent any campaign, candidate, or political party. The entire bill, which was passed into law August 2020 can be read here.
Q13: I forgot what my signature looks like and I want to make sure that the signature I put on my mail in ballot is the same as the one it will be checked against that’s on file with my registration. I have a couple of signatures that I use and I want to make sure I use the right one.
There’s no need to worry about your signature not matching. With the passing of the Ballot Cure Act which was signed into law, voters whose signature are determined by a bipartisan board to be not matching will be notified within 24 hours and be given up to November 18th to provide the cure. You will not be able to call your County Election Officials and ask for a copy of the signature on file: they cannot provide you with a copy of it due to security reasons. You can provide a signature update using the Voter Registration Application form. Click on this link and scroll to the bottom to see an example and to get to your county form.
Q12: I am a registered voter in Jersey City. How do I get my ballot in order to mail it?
You can get your answers here. But all active registered voters will be mailed a ballot. If yours does not arrive by Oct. 5th, please call your County Clerk.
Q11: My friend was told by someone that a bearer can bring unlimited numbers of ballots to drop boxes as the rule is not the same as bringing to BOE (Board of Elections.) Is this true?
Answer: NOT TRUE and can cause for ballots to be rejected. Any time someone takes a ballot from a voter, regardless of whether they will mail, drop, or deliver the ballot for the voter, they are a Bearer and they MUST complete the Bearer portion in front of the voter. It’s “Chain of Custody” and it is a Security Feature that is part of our election integrity. Bearers are tracked in the Statewide Voters Registration System and are limited to 3 ballots per election.
Q10: Can overseas voters who are registered in NJ use the “track my ballot” feature?
Q10a: Where do I sign up for “Where is my ballot“?
Answer: Yes, overseas voters can track their ballots using the Track My Ballot feature. Learn how to do it here.
Q9: My question is: why is this state so ridiculous?! Everybody else knows how to sanitize items. I am a 5 min walk to my usual polling place and have NEVER had to wait in line for more then 5 minutes. It has been easier to vote then to go to a store…but now Gov Murphy needs to cause mass confusion with all this nonsense. Why?
Answer: 1) It is safer to vote from home with a deadly pandemic that is spread by air and where we cannot tell if someone is a carrier or not. 2) With coronavirus, there is not enough staffing to have 100% of polling places open. Most poll workers are seniors and they are in a group who have had the highest percentage of long-term illness and death from COVID-19. NJ Department of Elections is still actively trying to hire poll workers and you can apply here. Governor Murphy’s Executive Order 177 removed the requirement for poll workers to live within the county in order to attract more workers and requires at least 50% of the usual polling places to be open and available. 3) You can still vote at a polling place on Election Day though per #1, your polling place may not be opened because there aren’t enough people to staff it. 4) What you cannot do that is different prior to coronavirus is to vote on a voting machine at your local place (unless you are a voter with a disability) and that’s because we do not have the technology to prevent voters from voting more since we have paper poll works: we need electronic poll books.
Q8: What size is the Official Mail-In Ballot Envelope? 10×6?
Answer: It varies with every county. But it is bigger than business mail and it will all say “Official Election Mail on it. Click on this link to see yours. Our volunteers took pictures of the mail-in ballot from the 2020 July Primary Election. We have most of them and will have all 21 counties updated as soon as our volunteers get them statewide.
Q7: My 94 year old mother-in-law is housebound and very weak. She can barely hold a pen, let alone sign her name, but she is determined to vote. Even if she does try to sign, there’s no chance her signature will match a previous signature before she became so weak. What can she/we do?
If you ensure that her ballot is turned in early and if there is a signature mismatch, she will have more than sufficient time to provide a cure. We wrote the Ballot Cure Act giving New Jersey voters the ability to fix their mail-in ballot mistakes and signature mismatch is a part of that. If there was a judgement of a signature mismatch, they would notify her within 24 hours of ruling that. She would have up to November 18th to provide the cure for this election. However, if she is so weak that “she can barely hold a pen,” we highly recommend having an Assistor. By law, all voters are permitted to have someone assist them and their vote counts if the “Assistor” portion is filled out. It appears on the Inner Envelope on the Certificate of Mail-in Voter. It’s always the bottom portion. Please click on this link where we have most counties listed. Our volunteers took pictures of the mail-in ballot from the 2020 July Primary Election. You or anyone she designates can provide help and simply fills in the Assistor portion.
Q6: Who brings ballots from boxes to BOE and how often will the boxes be emptied?
Your County Board of Elections and their designees are the only officials with access to secure ballot drop boxes. Secure ballot drop boxes are weather-proof, tamper-proof, and has 24-hr video surveillance. “The Secretary of State shall establish guidelines for the placement of the ballot drop boxes, the security of the ballot drop boxes, and the schedule for ballot pickup from the ballot boxes.”
Q5: Can a person register online to vote in the 2020 election?
Answer: Yes! New Jersey just made online voter registration available. You can register to vote using a paper form or you can go online to register to vote. Directions, link, and paper forms are all available here. Scroll to the bottom for the “Online Voter Registration”.
Q4: Can I still vote in person?
Answer: Yes, you can. Voters can vote in person and they will be provided with a paper ballot called a Provisional Ballot. All Provisional Ballots are processed and canvassed after all Mail-in Ballots are canvassed. This ensures that no voter votes more than once. Voters with disabilities will be provided ADA-compliant voting machine to vote.
Follow up to this: Why aren’t voters allowed to vote in person using voting machines?
Answer: We lack the technology to do it without ensuring that voters do not vote more than once. What we need are electronic poll books (we have paper) at every polling station. This ensures that we have accurate real-time knowledge. You can read more about it here.
Q3: How do I know if my mail-in ballot has been received and counted?
Q3d: How do I find out if my ballot was received and counted?
Q3c: How can I track my ballot in Somerset county
Q3b: How will I know When my mail-in-ballot was sent?
Q3a: How can I check to see if my Primary Vote Counted?
Q2: After I have voted by Mail. Where can I go to see if my vote has been registered?
Q1: Why are ballots being mailed so late? (Oct 5)
Answer: Time. Counties need time to get the work done. Governor Murphy’s Executive Order 177 stipulates “vote-by-mail ballots shall be mailed to all “Active” voters on or before the 29th day before the November General Election” which is October 5th. Some counties will be able to mail them out earlier than others. New Jersey voters normally get Vote By Mail ballots 45 days prior to Election Day, but this year’s elections have been and continue to be uniquely challenging in that all active registered voters will be mailed a Mail-in Ballot. County Clerks must ensure that the voter list of active registered voters is as accurate as possible and this determines the number of ballot to be printed. Each Official Mail-in Ballot has each voter’s name address and other security features unique to that voter, such as the bar code and voter ID. Counties also print Provisional Ballots and Replacement Ballots and those are all inventoried and tracked.
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