What a Mail-in Ballot Looks Like
With 21 counties in New Jersey, each operating and executing their own elections, there will be slight differences. However, all conform to current Statutes and will have similar features to the ballot from Morris County as shown here.
*Note Sept 13, 2020 – Links are for samples by county for Primary Election 2020. As soon as we get photos of actual mail-in ballots for each county, we will update them here.
Click on the links below to see the actual components of your mail-in ballot:
- original Official Mail-in Ballot envelope,
- return postage-paid outer envelope,
- return inner envelope with Certificate of Mail-in Voter,
- sample ballot from the county and link to all sample ballots
(We will update these as voters provide us with copies to upload.)
- CAPE MAY
Short video on how to fill out your mail-in ballot
WHAT are the components and security features of the Mail-in Ballot?
The Outer Envelope
Every county does it differently and will come in different designs and colors but all will have “Official Election Mail” as shown. Notice the barcode that allows elections officials to scan and track your ballot. You can track your ballot using the My Voter Information portal. Your Voter ID is also noted next to the bar code. This voter ID is unique to you within the Statewide Voter Registration System.
The Inner Envelope and Information
The inner envelope will be 2-sided and has a tearable flap that contains a security measure called the “Certificate of Mail-in Voter.” It is where the voter self-certifies – or attests – that they were the one who filled in the ballot in secret. This Certificate of Mail-in Voter contains 4 MAJOR REASONS WHY BALLOTS GET REJECTED.
Did you know that the second highest reason that ballots are rejected is because of this self-certification flap? That’s right. Voters either 1) forget to sign it or 2) they tore it off and it’s missing. Even if it says “DO NOTE TEAR OFF THIS FLAP,” people still tear it off. ONLY election workers are allowed to tear this off. Even if the directions say you must fill this out and sign it, people still neglect to do so.
- Fill it out completely** and SIGN it with your official signature that you used when you registered to vote. If you do not fill this out completely or forget to sign your name or your signature does not match the digitized signature on file, your ballot will not count
- DO NOT TEAR IT OFF. (Only Election Officials will tear it off after they have inspected this flap and verified your signature.) If this certificate is missing, your ballot will not count.
- Put your ballot inside this inner envelope. Fact: In the 2019 General Election, 349 voters forgot to include their ballot when they mailed it in.
- SEAL it. It has to be sealed for your ballot to count.
Could the design of the Certificate of Mail in Voter reduce the rejection rate?
We believe so. Take a look at Morris County’s Certificate of Mail-in Voter that was redesigned. We believe the size of the font used, the bright red colors to alert, and the simple language in red to “Sign Name Here” made it easy for voters to understand and thereby reducing the rate of rejection from Certificate Not Signed.
- On the left: 2018 General Election Certificate- rejection rate of 4.59% (of total VBM ballots cast)
- On the right 2020 Primary Election Certificate: rejection rate of 0.09%
You are allowed by law to have someone assist in filling out your ballot. For example, if you have shaky handwriting, you can have someone help you mark your ballot. However, you must fill out the “Assistor” portion of the Certificate of Mail-in Ballot. **DO NOT fill the Assistor section out if no one helped you.
How more time helps voters!
By getting their mail-in ballot in advance of an election, voters can be informed of the candidates and Ballot Questions. Time is on the voter’s side. Because you receive the mail-in ballot before Election Day, typically 45 days before, you have all that time to:
- See the ballot and become familiar with it
- See the candidates beyond “the line”
- Research all the candidates and where they stand on issues that they care about
- Read, research, study, and decide for yourself where you stand on the Public Question (above noted “on other side”)
What is a benefit of VBM that no one has brought up?
“Look beyond The Line.”Uyen Khuong, Executive Director, ATNJ Education Fund
New Jerseyans are certainly familiar with “the line”, the neat and organized column of candidates that a party has designated to be their candidates. Candidates who are on The Line get an unseen advantage because:
- The ballot in the voting machines are physically larger in size and it’s hard to visually make sense of it. Just like big screen TVs have recommended distances for the best viewing, the ballots in the voting machines should be sized similarly from the proximity of the voter’s eyes to the ballot. Just like sitting too close to a big screen TV makes it harder to really follow, moving further away from it allows you to visually take it all in.
- The voter tries to make order and The Line presents a neat order. The implicit thought is “This looks neat. These candidates look like they’ve got it together. They look like they all belong together and that party has presented a whole group of candidates who are running on the same set of issues. I don’t know who this lone person is over on the other side of this ballot, off to the side by themselves.” The eye tends to gravitate towards order.
- Time is not on the voter’s side. Voters can feel rushed to push the buttons and to vacate so they don’t hold up other voters. Who wants to be that voter that’s in that booth for that long? The Line makes it easy for voters to push all the way down the line …
A Mail-in Ballot helps to demolish these implicit advantages by:
- Giving voters time! Time to look at all the candidates on their ballot and to find out more. Mail-in ballots means that time IS on the voter’s side!
- Additionally time means that complex issues presented in the Ballot Question can be adequately researched and voters can vote with an informed decision.
- A mail-in ballot is physically smaller than the machine ballot and is scaled to be read easily. While it is slightly bigger than an A4-sized paper (8.5 x 11), it’s not poster sized. It’s so much easier to take it all in visually.
- Voters can actually see the candidates listed by themselves or seemingly off to the side. This helps upstart candidates to have a fairer chance to be seen by voters.
👇 *** If this ☝ was helpful to you, please share and help inform others.