Steps to make sure your vote counts in the Nov. 3 general election
Are you registered to vote in New Jersey?
Check your voter registration status. If you have not voted in a while, if you recently moved, or if you just aren’t sure whether you are registered to vote in New Jersey, check your registration on the New Jersey Division of Elections’ website or call your county clerk’s office. If you are not registered or your status is listed as inactive, your county clerk’s office can help you make sure you are properly registered.
If you are a New Jersey resident, you can now also register online here.
You can find postage-paid registration forms for all 21 counties here. You can use the forms to make changes to your registration like changing an address or declaring a party. You can also get a current signature on file. Making sure your signature matches what is on file is an important way to ensure that your ballot will be accepted in November. A mismatched signature is among the most common reason for rejecting a mail-in ballot.
The deadline to register to vote in New Jersey is Oct. 13.
Receiving your mail-in ballot
Every active voter in the state should automatically receive a ballot in the mail. Under the new law, these must be sent out 29 days prior to the election, or by Oct. 5. If you haven’t received a ballot by Oct. 9, officials recommend that you contact your county clerk to get a replacement.
If your registration is marked inactive, then you will not automatically get a ballot. Inactive voters must request a ballot by contacting the county clerk or by using the voter registration form and checking the vote-by-mail box.
Voters will not receive a separate sample ballot by mail this year because the vote-by-mail ballot is a representation of what will appear in the voting booth. You should still receive a postcard or letter with information about how to get or view a sample ballot, the locations of drop boxes within the county, and the location of your polling place should you choose to vote in person using a provisional ballot. These notifications must be mailed by Oct. 23.
Oct. 23 is the last day you can request a mail-in ballot.
Returning your mail-in ballot
There are four ways you can return your mail-in ballot.
- Drop your ballot off at one of the secure drop boxes in your county. You can only place a ballot in a box within your own county. Ballots are counted by county workers. The state has created an online list of every dropbox so that you can locate the nearest dropbox in your county. The dropbox for Princeton is located in front of the municipal building at 400 Witherspoon Street. Mercer County Clerk Paula Sollami Colvello said the drop boxes have 24-hour video surveillance. A Mercer County Board of Elections worker, escorted by a member of the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, picks up the ballots every day. The deadline for placing a ballot in the box is when the polls close on election day. Don’t wait until the last minute. Planet Princeton witnessed several people arrive at the dropbox on primary day after the polls closed, only to be turned away. Get your ballot in the box before 8 p.m. or your vote won’t count. Dropboxes in Mercer County are also listed on the county website.
- Mail your ballot back to the county board of elections. It must be postmarked by Nov. 3. The return envelope is postage-paid, so you do not need to add a stamp. Please allow time for this given postal service delays. In Mercer County, some voters had their ballots returned in the primary because the postal service was scanning the return address. Sollami-Covello said the county has changed the design of the mail-in ballot for the general election because of the problem in the primary election.
- Deliver your ballot in-person to your county board of elections office during office hours. The office is closed to the public, but Superintendent of Elections Cathy DiCostanzo said a security guard will notify a worker, who will come out and accept your ballot. The Mercer County Board of Elections has moved temporarily for the election and is located at 1400 Parkside Avenue in Ewing. Business hours are
- You can deliver your mail-in in person on Nov. 3 to your designated polling location. You should receive a mailing from your county alerting you of this location before the end of October. You should know that you will still have to wait in line and sign the polling book even if you are submitting your mail-in ballot.
Tracking your mail-in ballot
You can track the status of your mail-in ballot online via the New Jersey Division of Elections website.
Voting in person
Voters who prefer to vote in person on Nov. 3 can do so, but will cast provisional ballots. The only people who will be allowed to use voting machines are people with disabilities. The polls will be open from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Polling locations in Mercer County are listed on the county’s website.