The following comes from Harrison Township.
Procedural Changes to the Election process effective this year.
On Aug. 10, Governor Murphy signed a bill allowing registered voters to vote by mail for all future elections until the voter requests otherwise in writing. Additionally, this new legislation requires the county clerk to notify each voter that requested a ballot for the 2016 General Election that he or she will automatically receive a mail-in ballot for all future elections, unless the voter requests otherwise in writing.
That means you received a VBM Ballot for this year’s election and you probably did not expect that. You may have received it and inadvertently threw it in the trash for this reason.
If you completed a Vote By Mail (VBM) application for the Presidential Election in 2016 that indicated your request was only for that year, you will still receive a VBM Ballot every year, until you request otherwise in writing. Here’s what that means for Nov. 7.
As of today, there were 1,204 VBM Ballots mailed to Harrison voters for this election and only 708 have been returned. Obviously, there are still several mailing days left, so that number will rise. But should you show up to vote in person on Tuesday and be advised that you received a VBM Ballot, this new law is the reason why. Your only option at that point is to vote a Provisional Ballot. This is to ensure that no one votes twice. Once it’s confirmed that you did not submit the VBM Ballot that was mailed to you, your Provisional Ballot will be counted.
Because of this new law, there is an expectation that more Provisional Ballots will be cast this year.
The new law also extends the time that VBM Ballots received in the mail by the Board of Elections will be counted. Until this year, your VBM Ballot counted as long as it was received in the mail on Election Day. That will now be extended to two days after Election Day; meaning that Ballots received in the mail by Nov. 9 will be counted, as long as they are postmarked prior to the election. This is to allow for U.S. Postal Service delays in processing these VBM Ballots.
So, this could leave certain elections in question for nearly a week until all these votes are counted. This situation may arise in school board or small-town elections where the voter number is low.
On Election night, it will be known if the outstanding VBM or Provisional Ballots will have a bearing on a given election because all the numbers will be public. For example, if the margin of victory in an election after the votes are counted on election night is 150 votes, but there are a total of 180 outstanding VBM ballots and Provisional ballots — all will know that those particular election results may change.
We are advising our residents of this to help quell any frustrations so you know your vote will be counted if you fall into this category.