If it’s been a while since you’ve voted in a New Jersey Primary Election, you may want to confirm a few things about your voter registration status well in advance of heading to the polls. Some things to consider are:
- Am I registered to vote at my current address?
- Am I affiliated with a particular party?
- Am I happy with my current affiliation, or do I want to change it?
New Jersey’s primary elections won’t take place until June 2nd, which means undecided voters still have plenty of time to choose their favorite candidates. But before voters head to the ballot box, they should take steps to confirm their party affiliation status to ensure the ballot they’re handed on Election Day is the one they’re expecting.
You see, New Jersey’s primary elections are “closed” – which means that only registered voters affiliated with either the Democratic or Republican parties can participate in those primaries. It also means that voters who are registered as “Republican” will only be allowed to vote a ballot containing Republican candidates, and voters registered as “Democrat” will only be able to vote a ballot containing Democratic candidates. Voters cannot change parties on Election Day and ask for the other party’s ballot.
New Jersey election law specifies that party affiliation can only be changed up to 55 days before Primary Election Day. For the 2020 Primary, that means you need to confirm your party by April 8th.
The only voters allowed to make a last-minute party selection are voters registered with unaffiliated status. Unaffiliated voters have the option of affiliating with one of the two political parties on Election Day simply by choosing to vote in that party’s primary. Once you choose a primary to vote in, your voter registration is updated to reflect your new party affiliation and you will remain affiliated with that party unless and until you request a change back to unaffiliated status after the election. This is why some voters show up at the polls on Election Day asking for the ballot of one party, only to find out they’re affiliated with the other party; they forgot that they voted in a past primary, thereby affiliating themselves. Some voters have also unknowingly affiliated themselves with a party during the process of obtaining their driver license, while registering through the MVC.
Voters who are registered members of the Green Party, Libertarian Party, Natural Law Party, Reform Party, U.S. Constitution Party or the Conservative Party will not have the option of voting in either the Democratic or Republican primaries, unless they choose to change their party designation by April 8th.
If you’re not sure of your party affiliation status, you can call the County Board of Elections at 973-579-0950. Voters can declare or change their party affiliation by completing one of two forms: a Party Affiliation Form or a Voter Registration Form. Both forms must be submitted to the County Board of Elections no later than 55 days prior to Election Day. Mail or deliver forms to Sussex County Board of Elections, 83 Spring St., Suite 305, Newton, NJ 07860.