The Basics of VBM

UPDATED: May 19, 2020: With Executive Order 144 which made the July 7th Primary Election primarily Vote By Mail, it requires – among many things – the Secretary of State to create a new Application to VBM specific to the Primary Election. However, you can still use the current postage-paid Voter Registration Application to apply to Vote By Mail. This wondrous form does many things and it’s freely available to download and print. In normal times, you could walk in and get them from your local clerk’s office, currently closed due to coronavirus. Find out the key things you need to know about the Primary Election here.

What can voters expect in the mail?

  • If you are an active registered Republican or Democrat, for the July 7th Primary, you will automatically be sent a MAIL-IN BALLOT without having to apply for it, as was previously required in years preceding the 2018 VBM “Grandfather” Law for non-VBM voters. This will be marked as the “Official Mail-in Ballot” and is your vote. Look for it and do not throw it out. It is typically sent in a yellow envelope.
  • If you are an active Unaffiliated voter or an inactive voter registered as a Democrat, Republican, or Unaffiliated, you will be mailed a special Vote-By-Mail application just for this election. WHY? Our Primary Election is a “closed election” meaning only a voter affiliated with that party can vote in that party’s election eg. registered Republicans can vote in the Republican Primary where Republicans can nominate who they want to be their nominee for the General Election. In previous elections, active Unaffiliated Vote By Mail voters were mailed both a Republican and a Democratic ballot. Whichever one they filled out is the party they affiliate themselves with for the purposes of the election. The current Application for Vote By Mail form does NOT have the ability to declare one’s affiliation and with 2,404,557 registered Unaffiliated voters in New Jersey, we save a lot of taxpayer dollars by sending only 1 to each voter.
The outer envelopes will likely have a barcode that tracks your ballot which you can check on the My Voter Information portal.

What is an “inactive” voter?

  • “Inactive” voter if:
    1. NOT voted in the last two federal elections (2017 or 2018), 
    2. NOT responded to any election-related communication from the county when your election material came back as “undeliverable”, and
    3. not re-registered your new address.

When can voters expect to receive their Mail-in Ballot or Vote By Mail application for the July 7 Primary?

In previous elections, mail-in ballots were mailed to VBM voters starting 45 days before each election. Due to the tight deadline and the needs to create, print, ship, and mail millions of mail-in ballots and applications for Vote By Mail ballot, the Secretary of State shall mail it “in a manner to ensure the timely receipt and return of ballots for counting in the July 7, 2020 elections.” Executive Order 120 had moved the Primary Election from June 2nd to July 7th, which meant the date to start the mailing of mail-in ballots were to commence on May 30th. However, given the requirements of Executive Order 144, expect to receive your ballot or VBM application some time in early June.


> June 16, 2020: Last day to register to vote for the Primary Election

> June 30, 2020: Last day to apply to Vote By Mail in time for a Mail-in Ballot to be mailed to you.

> July 7, 2020 – 8pm: LAST day and time In-person VBM Applications will be accepted by the County Clerk’s Election Office

> July 7, 2020 : VBM Ballots MUST be postmarked by this date AND received by July 14th, 8pm by your board of elections.

** July 7, 2020: ELECTION DAY! All voting in-person at a polling station will be done by Provisional Ballot. Voters with disabilities may use ADA-compliant voting machines.

What if you are not currently registered to vote? Will you get a mail-in ballot or application to Vote By Mail?

No. No, you won’t. BUT there’s still time to register to vote for the July 7th Primary if you are:

  • A United States citizen
  • At least 17 years old, though you may not vote until you have reached the age of 18
  • A resident of the county for 30 days before the election
  • A person not serving a sentence of incarceration as the result of a conviction of any indictable offense under the laws of this or another state or of the United States.

The voter registration deadline is June 16th. Make it easy: register, affiliate yourself to a party in order to vote in that party’s primary, and sign up for Vote By Mail all one one form! We found the easiest way available right now for you to let your County Clerk know that you want to Vote By Mail. Click on the link for each county and the instructions and links to the forms on the Department of State are provided. We’ve also included what a sample application would look like. If you fill this form as shown below and send it BEFORE JUNE 16th, you will be registered to vote and will be mailed a mail-in ballot in order to vote.

REMINDER: This form is free to download and has prepaid postage!!

Each form has your County Clerks’ office pre-addressed on it. The links also provide forms in languages other than English.