News

As of October 2020 You’ll Need a REAL ID to Fly Domestically

Be prepared when traveling.  Starting October 1, 2020, you must have a REAL ID compliant driver license/ID to fly within the U.S., unless you use a U.S. passport or another federally approved form of identification.

You can obtain a REAL ID from the Newton motor vehicle agency.  Please feel free to contact the Sussex County Clerk’s office if you have any questions regarding passports. 

TIP:  When booking hotels and flights, it is very important to use your name as it appears on your driver’s license.

Helpful links:

https://Realidnj.com

https://www.dhs.gov/real-id

https://www.dhs.gov/real-id-frequently-asked-questions

https://sussexcountyclerk.org/passports/

Are you ready for the 2020 June Primary?

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:

  1. Am I registered to vote at my current address?
  2. Am I affiliated with a particular party?
  3. 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.

Dating Documents in 2020

As we enter a new year, I would like to address a concern regarding how documents are dated.

In previous years it was common practice to date documents using just the last two digits of the year, for example, 1/3/19.  As we are now in the year 2020, the use of just “20” allows a date to be easily modified which increases the risk of fraud and leaves a great deal open to interpretation as far as when a document was signed or any time frames that were intended.

In order to alleviate any such question or the possibility of pre or postdating documents, please ensure that all documents and forms are dated with the complete year as 2020 and not abbreviated.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact my office.  Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Jeffrey Parrott,

Sussex County Clerk

Is Your Passport Up to Date?

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It’s cold. Maybe you’re ready to send the Polar Vortex packing and get yourself packing, too — for an early Spring getaway! Keep in mind, if your destination takes you to some tropical paradise outside the U.S., you’ll want to make sure your passport is valid. If you don’t yet have a passport, don’t worry – we can help you get one!

Your Sussex County Clerk’s Office is an authorized passport acceptance facility. Whether you’re a first-time applicant, or you find you’re ineligible to renew your old passport by mail, County Clerk staff will review your paperwork to ensure your application and supporting documentation are in order.

Check the validity of your passport (and those of family members traveling with you) as soon as you think about traveling. Knowing you are prepared in advance is the best first step toward a relaxing travel experience. Keep in mind that the routine processing time for a passport is four to six weeks, but during peak travel season (early spring through mid-summer) that timeframe easily extends the full six weeks, and at times can extend to eight. You can pay an additional fee to expedite your application if necessary and reduce that time to three weeks – but again, the best defense is to apply early and avoid worry and rush fees.

Once you’ve taken steps to ensure you and your family have valid passports for travel, visit travel.state.gov to learn about steps you can take before traveling to ensure a safe and healthy trip and improve your overall experience abroad.

If your travel plans fall on or around a scheduled Election Day, consider applying for a Vote By Mail Ballot before you leave. Call the County Clerk’s Election Division with questions about early voting by mail (973-579-0900, ext. 1507).

For more information about passports visit https://sussexcountyclerk.org/passports/ or call the Clerk’s Office at 973-579-0900.

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.