NEW JERSEY – Ever since Governor Phil Murphy announced that the November election would be primarily vote-by-mail, there has been a flurry of concern about the voting in person which will be done by using a provisional ballot.
According to Warren County Clerk Holly Mackey, in every election paper provisional ballots are supplied to the poll workers and are nothing new.
“They are commonly used for things such as a voter appearing in person but does not show up in the poll books, for a whole host of reasons, and for people who were issued a vote-by-mail ballot,” Mackey said. “They are given the paper provisional ballot and the affirmation statement that they fill out.”
Mackey said that after the election each provisional ballot cast is investigated by the Board of Elections and if the voter’s registration is deemed valid, or the voter did not return a ballot in the mail, which would be voting twice, the provisional ballot is accepted.
Mackey noted that each county is responsible for their own ballot design, but in Warren County:
- The paper Provisional Ballot looks exactly like the ballot we sent to you in the mail except “Provisional Ballot” or “Mail-In Ballot” appears in the upper right hand corner. Other than that they are identical.
- Paper Provisional Ballots require the voter to fill out a form (affirmation Statement) to go along with the ballot. This form is what is used to investigate the eligibility of the voter.
- Provisional Ballots are the last ballots counted in every election. This is because of the Vote By Mail program. The Election Board must wait until after the deadline to receive Mail-In Ballots has passed before they can conclude their investigation. This is to prevent a dishonest person from dropping their ballot off at a post office and then heading to the polls to vote a Provisional Ballot (voting twice). Once the deadline is closed, and if the voter did not return a ballot via mail, their Provisional Ballot is accepted.
- For the Nov. 3General Election the deadline to receive ballots in the mail is November 10, so no provisional ballots will be counted before Nov. 11 at the earliest.
- All Provisional ballots that have been investigated and deemed eligible get counted.
“The Executive order allows voters to return their mail-in ballots to their polling place on Election Day, this is new this election, and hand them to a poll worker,” Mackey said. ” These ballots are counted starting the day after the election, Nov. 4.”
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