Author: Angela Rosa

Overseas mail will continue without issue

There were concerns earlier this month that overseas voters might have trouble mailing their ballots back to the U.S. due to talk that the United States might pull out of the Universal Postal Union (UPU).

However, on September 25th, a compromise agreement was reached that will address a currently unfair payment system for the international exchange of small packets.

The agreement will also enable the United States to remain in the UPU, with the Postal Service as its designated operator.

In response to this agreement, Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan issued the following statement:

“The Postal Service would like to thank President Trump for his leadership in helping us to negotiate the resolution of an intractable problem with the payment system for the international exchange of small packets that has persisted over many years, and that has been extremely difficult to resolve. We are very pleased that the member countries of the Universal Postal Union have reached an agreement that accommodates the concerns of the United States and other countries with that payment system.

“The United States and other countries’ concerns have been addressed by allowing the Postal Service to self-declare its rates beginning in July 2020, while operators from other countries will transition to self-declared rates at phased levels over the next six years. The proposal adopted by the Universal Postal Union is aimed at eliminating economic distortions for the distribution of goods, by establishing parity with comparable domestic services for inbound packet volumes.

“The outcome of the UPU negotiations will also enable the Postal Service to support infrastructure development abroad that builds capacity for advance electronic customs data transmission and improvements in postal security. The safety, sanctity and security of the mail are of paramount importance to the Postal Service, so we appreciate that the agreement reached today includes concrete steps to ensure that the world’s posts will be better positioned to provide data from their customers that will help to reduce the use of the international mail system to transport dangerous contraband and counterfeit goods into the United States.

“We are also grateful for the laser focus and concerted efforts of the Trump administration team, led by Dr. Peter Navarro, on these important issues. Through our collective efforts, and the spirit of cooperation and compromise that was demonstrated by the International Bureau and the participating nations at the Extraordinary Congress, we believe that the global network for the international transportation and delivery of mail will work more effectively, and in a fashion which is fundamentally more fair to all participants in the system.”

Megan J. Brennan
Postmaster General & CEO

New Voter Group Scheduled To Receive Automatic Mail-In Ballots!

On August 28, 2019 Governor Murphy signed into law a bill that amended the 2018 Vote By Mail law and mandates that our office send a Vote By Mail* Ballot for the upcoming November 5 General Election to any voter who requested and received a Vote By Mail Ballot in any election held in 2017 or 2018. (S4069/A5759 P.L. 2019 c. 265)

*Vote By Mail Ballot includes paper ballots voted in person at the County Clerk’s Office.

This same law also mandates that our office automatically issue this group of voters a Vote By Mail Ballot in ALL FUTURE ELECTIONS — unless the voter informs our office in writing that they do not wish to receive Vote By Mail Ballots for all future elections.

Approximately 3,000 Sussex County voters are affected by this change in law. IF YOU ARE AFFECTED by the law, you should have received a notice from our office in mid-September advising you of your new “vote-by-mail status.” Our notice also included a form for you to “opt out” of remaining on this automatic vote-by-mail list. If you prefer to vote at the polls on Election Day, you should complete the “Opt Out” form and return it to the County Clerk’s Office by Sept. 25th. If you cannot meet that deadline, simply call our office ASAP to explain you want to opt off the list, but that your form will be arriving after the 25th. We will do our best to accommodate you. You should know that if you are mailed a Vote By Mail Ballot, you will not be permitted to vote on the voting machines at your polling place (because the poll book will show that you already received a mail-in ballot). The poll worker can only issue you a provisional ballot, which is essentially the same paper ballot that was mailed to you.

The Clerk’s Office is here to serve you. If you want to remain on the list to automatically receive mail-in ballots for all future elections, then you don’t need to do anything except sit back and wait for your ballot to arrive in the mail. However, if you prefer to vote at the polls, you must complete the Opt Out form and mail it back to our office ASAP so that we can remove your name from the automatic mailing list. Voters who “opt out” of receiving automatic ballots for every election, still reserve the right to request a mail-in ballot for any singular election of their choosing.

NOTE: If you are scheduled to receive a mail-in ballot automatically, but for some reason you do not receive your ballot in the mail, please call our office so we can look into your situation. We begin mailing ballots 45 days prior to Election Day. Please allow 5-7 days for delivery. Call 973-579-0900, ext. 1507 for more information.

Attention Military & Overseas Voters!

Update: Overseas mail will continue without issue.

You should return your voted November 5, 2019 General Election ballot before October 16.

Here’s why returning your ballot before October 16 is important for this election: The Universal Postal Union (UPU) is a worldwide body that establishes and agrees on international postal rates. The U.S. has announced it may pull out of the UPU. If we do, there will be no agreement for mail to be delivered to or from our country to any other country after October 16, 2019.

Although the U.S. Postal Service and others have been working on contingency plans, those plans are unlikely to be in place in time for military and overseas citizen (UOCAVA) voters to return their ballots in time for the November 2019 elections.

National Passport Center experiencing processing delays

The standard processing time to apply for and obtain a U.S. Passport Book or Card has gone from 4-6 weeks to 6-8 weeks. Persons interested in foreign travel in need of a passport should allow for the current delay.

Applicants can still pay additional fees to expedite their passport application, with options of either a 3-4 week turnaround or as little as 2-3 weeks.

Depending on when you plan to apply and how many persons are in your party, an appointment may be necessary.

Visit our PASSPORT site for more information on obtaining a passport book or card, or call the Clerk’s Office at 973-579-0900 for more information.

Want to run as an Independent candidate this November?

If you’re planning on running as an independent candidate in the 2019 November General Election, you will have to file your direct petition with the County Clerk no later than 4 p.m. June 4th.

Direct petitions are available to candidates not participating in the county’s June 4 Primary elections. Petitions can be picked up between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. from the Sussex County Clerk’s Office, 83 Spring Street, Suite 304 in the Cochran House Professional Bldg in Newton. Call 973-579-0900 for more information.

Has my voted ballot been received yet?

Voters can register online to check the status of their Mail-In Ballot…

Voters who want to check the status of their voted mail-in ballot can do so by setting up a personalized account with the NJ Division of Elections; follow the instructions below:

  1. Go to https://njelections.org/
  2. Click “Am I Registered?”
  3. Click “NJ Voter Information Page
  4. Click “Sign Up for Public Access
  5. Enter your information as it’s found in your Voter Registration file:
    1. Last Name
    2. First Name
    3. County of Residence
    4. Enter Voter ID (Most successful) 
      NOTE:  Your Voter Id# is listed on both the outer mailing envelope that your ballot came in, and on the inner envelope used to return your voted ballot to the Board of Elections.

      1. If you do not know your Voter ID, you may enter your Driver License # instead ONLY if you registered to vote using your DL# as ID
      2. If you do not know your Voter ID AND you didn’t register with your DL#, you may enter the last 4 digits of your SSN ONLY if you registered to vote using your last 4 SSN as ID
  6. Click Sign Up for Access

Once you’ve successfully created an account, you’ll be prompted to log in. To check your mail-in ballot status, scroll down to the bottom of your screen and click “Mail-In Ballot History”; the current election will be listed first. Look at the column labeled “Ballot Received Date” to see if/when your ballot was received by the County Board of Elections.

Access to your online account will be available to you year-round for all upcoming elections. If you’ve chosen to vote-by-mail in all future elections, it would be a great idea to set up an account for continued access to your voting records.

NOTE:  If you were unsuccessful in creating an account online, you’ll need to contact the Sussex County Board of Elections to check your Voter ID.

Renovations to Clerk’s Office Are Complete!

The County Clerk welcomes visitors back to Suite 304 in the Cochran House Professional Building. The Clerk’s staff were temporarily relocated while renovations were made to Suite 304, improving the office for staff and customers alike. Among the improvements are new privacy stations for in-person voting.

Clerk’s Office adds new stations for in-person voting
Image of Clerk's newly renovated reception area, shows two transaction windows and one regular window
Renovated reception area

Real ID deadline extended for New Jersey

The October 10, 2018 deadline for New Jersey to comply with the Real ID Act has been extended again — this time until October 10, 2019.

According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), New Jersey has been granted another extension for REAL ID enforcement, allowing Federal agencies to accept driver licenses and identification cards from New Jersey at Federal facilities, nuclear power plants and federally regulated commercial aircraft until October 10, 2019.

After October 10, 2019 NJ citizens will need more than their state-issued driver license to board domestic flights.

Other federally accepted forms of I.D. for domestic air travel include the U.S. Passport Book or Passport Card. Travelers who do not already possess a U.S. Passport may want to consider applying for one or both. The Passport Book also allows you to fly internationally, while the Passport Card limits you to domestic air travel and/or international travel by land or sea ports of entry.

Your County Clerk’s Office is a certified U.S. Passport Acceptance Facility and can assist you with the application process. Visit our Passport Page for more information on what’s needed to apply for a U.S. Passport Book or Card.

Visit DHS for possible NJ extension updates and to learn more about REAL ID.

Voter Concerns Over Mass Mailings of Vote-By-Mail Applications

“Our office and county clerks’ offices throughout New Jersey have been inundated with emails, personal visits, and phone calls from voters concerned about recent mailings by political action organizations.

“County clerks received word last month that a democracy project would be sending out mailings to New Jersey voters to encourage voter participation by mail.

“These mailings are not from your county clerk, they are being sent by the Voter Participation Center and The Center for Voter Information – both of Trenton, as well as from various candidate campaigns. The mailings contain a personalized mail-in ballot application pre-filled with the voter’s name and address in the hope that the voter will sign the application and return it in the postage-paid envelope addressed to the County Clerk for processing a mail-in ballot to the voter.

“This type of marketing effort is not new; both major political parties have been doing so for years. The data come from the Statewide Voter Registration System under the direction of the New Jersey Division of Elections in the Department of State.

“There is no prohibition under the law for providing voter data to marketers who use it for political purposes.

“What voters should know:

  • If you complete the application, sign it and return it in the postage-paid envelope, the County Clerk will check your signature against the signature from your voter registration file and approve or disapprove the application.  If approved, a mail-in ballot will be mailed to you at the address indicated.  If disapproved an explanatory letter will be mailed.
  • Please note in Box 1 the voter may select the option of receiving a Mail-In Ballot for (a) ALL FUTURE ELECTIONS or (b) for ONLY ONE election.  If no box is checked our office will send approved voters a mail-in ballot for the Nov. 6 election only.
  • If you want to continue to vote on the voting machine on election day DO NOT sign the pre-filled Application for a Mail-in Ballot and DO NOT send it to the County Clerk.
  • Active voters who have an approved mail-in ballot application on file from the 2016 General (Presidential) Election will be sent a mail-In ballot for ALL FUTURE ELECTIONS unless they OPT OUT in writing to the County Clerk.  This is mandated by P.L. 2018 c. 72.  The roughly 4,200 Sussex County voters affected by this mandate have been notified by letter from the County Clerk to inform them of their options.
  • Voters who receive a mail-in ballot should vote that ballot and return it as soon as possible to the Board of Elections.  The new law allows that every mail-in ballot bearing a postmark dated on or before Election Day and is received by the Board of Elections within 48 hours of the closing of the polls shall be considered valid and counted.
  • Voters who were sent a mail-in ballot MAY NOT vote on the voting machine on Election Day. If they go to their polling place they will be given a provisional ballot, which is the same as the paper ballot they were mailed; as a matter of convenience and to avoid delays at the polls, these voters should vote the ballot they were mailed.
  • Sample ballots will be delivered by Nov. 2. All active voters will receive a sample ballot in the mail during the week before the election. The sample ballot will show all the races, candidates, and questions for which the voter may cast a ballot in this election and will list the voter’s polling location and hours. Samples of the mail-in ballots are posted to the County Clerk’s website for viewing.

“The approaching Nov. 6 General Election is a supercharged mid-term federal election for Congress that, together with a rush by our governor in August to mandate significant changes to the mail-in ballot law, the frenzy of events taking place in Washington, and the  use of technology to gain personal data to reach people has heightened voter awareness statewide.

“I can assure you that the County Clerk’s Office and the Board of Elections are ready to meet the challenges of this election. We are diligent in our processes and are carefully observing the laws and procedures to prevent voter fraud.

“We work closely with the Division of Elections and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to ensure our elections remain safe and secure for the voters.”

For more information utilize our website www.sussexcountyclerk.org  or call 973-579-0900, ext. 1507.