Although this is a MUST READ for some, there is something for everyone in this so please read on…
Governor Murphy signed a law on August 10th with a number of changes to our NJ Election laws relating to VOTING BY MAIL (S647). Our State Senator Brian Stack and Assemblyman Raj Mukherji were among the sponsors of this legislation. The intent is to increase voter participation, but one part of the new law that requires the immediate attention of some of you, and possibly a response is:
IF YOU REQUESTED A BALLOT TO VOTE BY MAIL IN THE 2016 GENERAL (PRESIDENTIAL) ELECTION, AND ONLY FOR THAT ELECTION, YOU HAVE BEEN SIGNED UP TO AUTOMATICALLY VOTE BY MAIL FOR ALL ELECTIONS, FOREVER.
If this applies to you, then you should have received the attached letter from the Hudson County Clerk informing you of this.
- IF YOU WANT TO OPT OUT of this, then you must do so in writing.
- If you want your opting out to be effective for the upcoming General Election on Tuesday November 6th, you must do so by this Friday, September 14th. Instructions are in the letter.
- If your opting out instructions are received after Friday, September 14th, the you will be just opting out of all future elections after the upcoming general election on November 6th.
- If you do not opt out or your notification to opt out is received too late, and you want to vote on Election Day this November 6th, you will not be able to vote in the machine. You will, however, be able to Vote by Mail OR submit a provisional ballot at your polling location on Election Day.
Applying to Vote By Mail – Rule Changes:
OLD RULES / Prior to the law change: you could apply to vote by mail and select one of two options – either for the current calendar year OR for all November elections going forward.
NEW RULES / With the law change: you can apply for either ALL elections going forward OR just one election in the current calendar year.
Click on the picture or HERE for the new Vote By Mail application.
What does this mean for you for this year and going forward:
You are being added to the automatic and forever list if any of the following applies:
- If you applied for a ballot previously having checked the box that says all November General elections and still receive ballots. E.G. – you applied in 2015, and have received ballots for every November election since.
- If you applied in 2016, checked the box that says ONLY the November General election that year.
You are not being added to the automatic and forever list if any of the following applies:
- If you applied in 2016, checked the box that says ONLY one of the elections (E.G. the primary) other than the November General election.
- If you applied in any other year (2017 or 2018 for example), and checked the box that says ONLY one election (whether November General or any others) that year.
Other major provisions in the new law that will affect us:
- You will be able to apply for automatic and forever Vote By Mail when you register to vote. See Boxes 1 & 14 on the new application HERE.
- Your Vote By Mail Ballot can now be counted after closing of the polls on election day ONLY IF it was sent in the mail, postmarked no later than election day, and received no later than 48 hours later. This is a change – previously the Board of Elections had to receive your ballot no later than Election Day. For Hoboken, and others, this has the potential to have elections not decided until the Thursday following Election Day.
Upcoming Election on November 6th
The upcoming election will have four main choices to vote for:
- U.S. Senate
- U.S. House of Representatives
- Hoboken School Board
- Hoboken Public Question – Yes/No: do you want to see election run offs reinstated (to ensure winning candidate receives at least 50%+1 of the vote).
If you are not registered to vote, and I believe about 20% of the people who receive this are not, please do. Whether you lean left like me or lean right, your vote is your voice. As President Obama just said in a speech recently [paraphrased] “young people complain that they aren’t represented in government. Yet only 1 in 5 millennials vote!”. This idea of not voting but complaining about policies / politics can be applied to any group and any voice. So please register and / or make sure if you recently moved that your registration is current. You can download an application HERE. And don’t worry, I am told that it is not voter registration that adds you to the jury duty list. It is your driver’s license.
Clear as mud?
If you are not clear on whether or not you are being added to the automatic and forever list, please reach out to the County Clerk’s office directly at 201-369-3470, select 6.
To give you an order of magnitude, in 2016, 2,511 Hoboken voters were sent a Vote By Mail Ballot. Of these only about 1,800 actually voted by mail. BUT ALL 2,511 WHO RECEIVED A BALLOT THAT YEAR, plus any others who applied in 2017 and 2018 to receive ballots for all November General elections going forward, will now receive Vote By Mail Ballots for all elections going forward. Unless you OPT OUT in writing.