Submitted By Paula Sollami Covello, Esq., Mercer County Clerk
Vote-by-Mail applications are now available for the November 3rd general election and may be requested by mail. Requests will be accepted until October 27, 2015 at 4:00pm by the Mercer County Clerk’s Office. Voters may also complete a vote-by-mail ballot by visiting the County Clerk’s Office, Election Division at 209 South Broad Street in the Courthouse Annex, Trenton to obtain a ballot beginning late September, until November 2nd at 3:00pm.
There is a common misconception that voters can only vote by mail if they provide a valid reason for being unavailable during Election Day, such as being at work or out of town. In actuality, in New Jersey, any registered voter can vote by mail for any reason.
While we are not exclusively a “vote-by-mail” state like the states of Washington and Oregon, we do offer vote-by-mail as an option for voters who prefer to mail in ballots instead of taking a trip to vote at the polls. This essentially gives people a larger window for voting in elections, and allows them to avoid relying on a single day to cast their votes.
New Jersey also allows you to “vote-by-mail” in person by visiting your County Clerk’s Office where you can fill out your application, pick up your ballot, vote on the ballot and hand-deliver it to the Board of Elections Office on any day before Election Day. If you choose his method, you would need to visit the Mercer County Clerk’s Office after ballots are printed at the end of September.
Moreover, if you are on the County Clerk’s “permanent list”, you will receive a vote-by-mail ballot for every General Election with one application. This is another great option for those that have no desire to travel to vote at the polls. You can join the permanent list by checking box “B” on the vote-by-mail application. Be mindful that you will ONLY get a mail in ballot for the November General Election if you check box “B”.
A registered voter may apply for a ballot by completing and mailing a Vote-By-Mail application to the County Clerk’s Office, Elections Department. After the mail-in deadline, a voter may apply for a ballot, in person, at the Mercer County Clerk’s Office until 3:00pm the day before the election.
A recent change to the law pertaining to mail in ballots limits the number of ballots that an individual can obtain and bring in for other voters. Previously, a messenger used could bring in applications for 10 voters and pick-up 10 vote-by-mail ballots. The new law states one messenger can only pick-up a maximum of 3 ballots.
To request a Vote-by-Mail application, voters can contact the Mercer County Clerk’s Office, Elections Department at (609) 989-6494 or visit the County Clerk’s election website at www.mercercounty.org/countyclerk. You can also visit the State Division of Elections website at http://www.njelections.org/voting-information-vote-by-mail.html. Applications are available on the website in both English and Spanish. The State Division of Elections website also offers vote-by-mail ballots in Indian, Chinese, and Korean.