Unaffiliated registered voters in New Jersey are all going to receive an Application To Vote By Mail from their County Clerk.
The application mailed by your County Clerk was designed by the NJ Division of Elections under Executive Order #144 and is specific to the July 7, 2020 Primary Elections. If you are an unaffiliated voter and you want to vote by mail in the July 7 Primary, you need to complete and return this EO#144 application as soon as possible — EVEN IF YOU ALREADY submitted a regular Vote By Mail Ballot Application. The regular application used to request a mail-in ballot cannot be used for the July 7 primaries. The EO#144 application will not cost the voter anything to mail, it comes in the form a prepaid postage mailer.
Under normal conditions, unaffiliated voters could apply for a Vote By Mail Ballot and not declare a party choice.
However, the July 7 Primary Elections are not being conducted under normal conditions. On May 15, 2020 Governor Murphy issued Executive Order #144 which stipulated in part that unaffiliated voters would be mailed a special Vote By Mail Application by their County Clerk. This special application only applies to the July 7 primary. The application requires that the voter declare a party in advance of being mailed their ballot, so that only one ballot is mailed. So, if you are unaffiliated and want to receive a mail-in ballot, you MUST complete and return the Special Application issued under Executive Order #144 in order to receive a ballot by mail.
The application to vote by mail under Executive Order #144 is a one-time request specific to the July 7 Primaries; you will not be required to vote by mail in future elections.
Unaffiliated voters who do not receive a mail-in ballot can vote a provisional paper ballot at their assigned polling place on Election Day.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, voting in NJ’s Primary Elections will look different this year. Here’s what voters need to know:
- Governor Murphy signed Executive Order No. 144 on May 15, 2020 which encourages voting by mail in the July 7, 2020 Primary Election.
- The order requires the County Clerk to send all Democratic and Republican registered voters a Vote-by-Mail Ballot for the upcoming July 7 election. Ballots will be mailed on or around June 12th.
- Unaffiliated registered voters will receive a special application to vote by mail from the County Clerk; if unaffiliated voters want to participate in the Primary Election they are encouraged to complete and return the application to the County Clerk, instructing the Clerk which party’s ballot they want mailed. These applications will be mailed out in mid-June.
- As per Executive Order No. 144, the Clerk’s Office is providing a postage paid envelope for the return of Vote By Mail Ballots.
- Voters who don’t want to mail their ballot can choose to:
a) Hand deliver their ballot to the County Board of Elections; those ballots must be delivered to the board by 8 p.m. on Election Day; or
b) Deposit their ballot in one of five secure drop boxes located throughout the county beginning June 16. The drop boxes will have daily pickups. The deadline to deposit your ballot in a drop box is 8 p.m. Election Day. Drop boxes will be available at:
1. Vernon Township Municipal Building
2. Hardyston Township Municipal Building
3. Sparta Township Municipal Building
4. Hopatcong Borough Municipal Building
5. Newton Town Municipal Building
- Voters may not drop off their voted Mail-in Ballots at the polls on Election Day.
- Voters who go the polls on Election Day will be issued a Provisional Paper Ballot; only voters with disabilities will have access to ADA-accessible voting machines.
- The number of polling places available to voters on Election Day will be limited. A list of polling places is available at www.sussex.nj.us.
- Since polling places have been reduced, many voters will be assigned a new polling place just for the July 7 election. Normally, voters receive a sample ballot 1-2 weeks prior to Election Day letting them know where their polling place is located. For this July 7 election, instead of a sample ballot, voters will receive a postcard/notice in the mail letting them know where their polling place is and where they can view a sample ballot.
- The deadline of 3 p.m. July 6 to apply in person for a mail-in ballot is suspended. In-person applications will be accepted up to 8 p.m. July 7, 2020.
On behalf of the Sussex County Clerk’s Office, I thank you for your time and consideration. We know that this is a difficult time for most and that adjusting to change isn’t always easy — and there are a lot of changes in place for the July 7 Primary. I’m hoping the above information helps clarify things. Please know that my staff and I are here to meet your voting needs. If you have questions about voting by mail, I encourage you to call our office at 973-579-0900.
Jeffrey M. Parrott
Sussex County Clerk