TOMS RIVER – Voting regulations are different now, and local officials are pushing to make sure that residents know how to vote easily and safely in the July 7 Primary Election.
A Primary Election is when voters of a particular party choose who will represent them at the polls in November. You must be registered as a member of a party to vote in a Primary.
Much of this election will be done by mail, officials said, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Recently, county workers have been sending mail-in ballots for people registered as Republicans and Democrats. They are also sending mail-in ballot applications for unaffiliated voters.
Check Your Mail
Residents are being urged to check their mail to see what paperwork the county is sending out. It’s important to know that it is not junk mail. Send the ballot or application back as soon as possible to make the whole process easier.
If you tear, deface or incorrectly mark your ballot, it can be returned to the Ocean County Clerk’s Office for a new one.
“This is very different from casting a ballot on a voting machine at your area polling place as so many of us are used to,” said Ocean County Freeholder Virginia E. Haines, who serves as liaison to the Ocean County Board of Elections.
Ocean County will be mailing out more than 800,000 pieces of mail for the July 7 Primary Election.
“This process comes with a heavy price tag,” said Ocean County Freeholder Gary Quinn, who is liaison to the Ocean County Clerk’s Office. “The hours alone to assemble all of this information and get it out in a timely fashion to the voters is staggering.”
Many voters have already received the vote by mail ballot or an application in the mail. All Ocean County voters should have this information by the end of the week of June 15.
“I would be remiss if I didn’t send out a huge thank you to all of the Ocean County government employees that have been working seven days a week to prepare all of this information,” Quinn said. “So many County workers from all departments have pitched in to help out and get these ballots and related election materials in the mail and to our voters.”
“With concerns over how long COVID-19 may last on surfaces, many people have been taking in their mail differently and with an abundance of caution, they are throwing out those pieces that do not look familiar to them,” Haines said. “It is very important for people to go through their mail, fill out the ballot and get it back to the county so their vote can be counted.”
Ballots returned by mail must be postmarked no later than 8 p.m. July 7. The deadline for delivering your ballot in person to the Ocean County Board of Elections or placing it in one of the secure drop boxes is also 8 p.m., July 7. Dropbox locations will be announced at a future date.
Ocean County voters will receive a notice with their ballot outlining the steps that need to be taken along with websites and phone numbers for further assistance if needed.
Registered voters not affiliated with a political party also will be mailed a postage paid vote-by-mail application. The application can be filled out and sent back to the County Clerk’s office to receive either a Democrat or Republican vote-by-mail ballot.
“The Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders has been receiving numerous calls from constituents who are voicing their displeasure over having limited polling places open where they would fill out provisional ballots and over receiving vote-by-mail ballots that they have not requested,” Quinn said. “Unfortunately, I have told people our hands are tied and this is what Gov. Murphy has ordered.”
There will be a limited number of polling places open on Election Day. However, only provisional paper ballots will be available at those locations.
“Do not bring your vote-by-mail ballot to the polling place on Election Day and do not expect to vote on a voting machine at the polling place,” Haines said. “These are the rules determined by Gov. Murphy.”
There will be no sample ballots distributed for this election as in the past but they are available to view it on the Ocean County Clerk’s website at oceancountyclerk.com and will also be posted at the limited number of polling places open on Election Day.
“Participating in the 2020 Primary Election will be very different,” Quinn said. “We want our voters to be well informed of what they need to do and to know we are available to answer any questions they may have.”
If you have any questions please check oceancountyclerk.com for updates and information. You can also call the Ocean County Clerk’s office at 732-929-2018 or the Ocean County Board of Elections at 732-929-2167.