UNION COUNTY, NJ — Many residents remain leery about vote-by-mail ballots. According to an Oct. 17 press release from Union County, written by Joanne Rajoppi, after the polls close on Election Day, Nov. 8, vote-by-mail ballots are tallied and added to the total numbers provided by each polling location. The results are then posted on the county clerk’s website.
According to the press release, personal information is never recorded on a mail ballot. They are placed in a secure envelope with a detachable certificate, which includes the name, address and signature of the voter. The ballot isn’t opened by the Board of Elections until this portion of the ballot is detached. This provides two purposes: one is to protect privacy and another is to record the vote.
The press release also states that a vote-by-mail ballot can also be used as a backup in case a voter is unable to arrive to a polling location on Election Day. Polling locations depend on the district in which the voter resides.
“I have an office in Westfield and Elizabeth where people can come see me to sign up for the vote-by-mail ballot,” County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi told LocalSource on the phone. “It’s a one-stop service where they come and fill out an application and ballot. They fill out the ballot in private and drop it into a locked box which is picked up by the Board of Elections each day.”
There is also some confusion about the difference between a provisional ballot and a vote-by-mail ballot.
“A provisional ballot is used by poll workers at the polling locations,” Rajoppi told LocalSource over the phone. “It is managed under the Board of Elections and used for residents that have recently moved, or as an absentee ballot. The voter signs an affidavit and the boards reviews the ballot to make sure it was completed by a registered voter.”
According to the press release, the review process also ensures that the voter hasn’t also completed a vote by mail ballot. The review process begins the day after Election Day and concludes within seven days.
“At the end of the review period, all of the provisional ballots certified by the Board of Elections are tallied and reported to my office,” Rajoppi said in a recent press release. “I add these numbers to the vote-by-mail and polling place numbers, and I report the grand total to the public as the official, certified results of the election.”
Although some voters are concerned about voter fraud, vote-by-mail ballots actually provide more of paper trail, which might reduce this from happening. Another reason it’s becoming more popular is because of its convenience.
Traveling to poll locations and waiting in line can take a substantial amount of time. For some people, it isn’t always possible to squeeze this into their schedules. Also, the penalties for voter fraud are pretty severe, and most people wouldn’t consider it worth the risk.
Some voters have expressed concerns that party plays a role in who chooses to vote by mail. It is said that democrats are more likely to vote by mail, and this option could make them more likely to participate in the voting process.