“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.