OCEAN COUNTY – There are only a few weeks left before Election Day but voters have several options available for how they cast their ballot.
Ocean County Clerk Scott M. Colabella said this year voters will “have more options to vote than ever before” noting options include vote-by-mail, early voting and in-person voting November 2.
From October 23 to October 31, County voters can participate for the first time in early voting, “which gives our voters the opportunity to vote before Election Day in person and on a voting machine at designated early voting locations,” Ocean County Commissioner Virginia E. Haines said.
Haines, who serves as liaison to the Ocean County Board of Elections said “with only 10 locations, voters might be asking how can I cast a vote if I’m not in my traditional election district?”
She noted that “Ocean County has worked diligently to secure new state of the art technology voting machines and also electronic poll books so that any voter from any election district can cast the proper ballot at any of the 10 locations in the County.”
Early voting hours will be from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., on Sundays, October 24 and October 31.
“With this new technology, every vote will have a secured paper trail. This new technology has been vetted and certified by the state of New Jersey,” Haines added.
The early locations are:
Berkeley: Library at 30 Station Road in Bayville
Brick: Library at 301 Chambersbridge Road
Jackson: Library at 2 Jackson Drive
Lacey: Lacey Community Center, Room C, 15 E. Lacey Road
Lakewood: Municipal Building Courtroom, 231 3rd Street
Lavallette: Library at 112 Jersey City Avenue
Little Egg Harbor: Library at 290 Mathistown Road
Manahawkin: Southern Resource Center Nutrition Hall, 179 S. Main Street
Manchester: Library at 21 Colonial Drive
Toms River: Library at 101 Washington Street
“It was important to locate early voting sites in strategic locations throughout Ocean County. These are areas of high visibility that can be secured at the end of each voting day. Early voting provides an added layer of convenience to casting your ballot and a big part of that is easily accessing an early voting site,” Colabella said.
He noted that early voting will appear different than traditional Election Day voting. Voters entering an early voting site will be asked to sign in as done in the past.
“This year, rather than signing in on paper poll books, you will sign in on an electronic pad – very similar to the ones you use when making a credit card transaction at a store. Keeping in mind the importance of health and safety, poll workers will provide each voter with a disposable stylus pen which will be used at check in and again when you vote,” the County Clerk added.
Once the sign in process is complete, the voter will be given a white plastic voter card, which will be used to activate the voting machine which features a digital voting screen. You will use the disposable stylus pen to mark the choices on your ballot, and after reviewing your ballot, the voter will print the completed ballot and take it to the voting tabulator for scanning.
Haines said, “once you have inserted your printed ballot into the voting tabulator machine you have cast your vote for the general election.”
County election officials noted the digital voting technology machines will be used for in-person, early voting only. Traditional voting machines will be used on Election Day as will the electronic poll books.
“The Ocean County Board of Elections has been busy training hundreds of poll workers in order to assure early voting and Election Day voting goes smoothly,” Haines said.
“Poll workers will be available to answer questions at any early voting site,” she added. Voters also have the option to Vote-By-Mail for Election Day.
Vote-by-mail applications sent through the U.S. mail must arrive at the County Clerk’s Office by October 26. After that date voters must appear in person at the Ocean County Clerk’s office at either the Ocean County Courthouse, 118 Washington Street, Toms River, or the Ocean County Southern Service Center, 179 South Main Street, Manahawkin, to apply for and obtain the vote-by-mail ballot.
In-person application deadline is 3 p.m., November 1. Completed ballots can be dropped off at any of the 19 drop box locations throughout the County. A complete list of locations is available on the Ocean County Clerk website at co.ocean.nj.us.
Haines noted that Ocean County provided 55,188 Vote-by-Mail ballots as of October 15, for the General Election. “We are also very pleased that once again we can go to the polls on Election Day and cast our ballot in person on a voting machine in our voting district.”
“Due to state mandates, we were unable to do that last year and many voters were disappointed that option was not available to them,” she added.
Those with questions on casting a ballot for the election can call calling the Ocean County Clerk’s Office at 732-929-2153 or the Ocean County Board of Elections at 732-929-2167.
Haines stressed that, “voting is key to our democracy. With all these options there is no reason not to vote.”