The July 7 primary election is fast approaching, and all registered voters have an opportunity to have their say in choosing the candidates that will represent their party in November.
This year’s primary was pushed back a month to July 7 because of restrictions on gatherings due to the coronavirus and to give county clerks more time to prepare for an anticipated huge increase in requests for mail-in ballots. In May, Governor Murphy issued an executive order requiring county clerks to send vote-by-mail ballots to all registered voters, including registered voters who are not affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic party.
For many Monmouth County voters, using a vote-by-mail ballot is a new experience. The process is simple. Fill out the mail-in ballot with a black or blue pen by selecting one candidate for each office. Place your completed ballot into the certification envelope that came with the ballot and seal it. Complete and sign the Certificate of Mail-In Voter on the flap of the certification envelope but do not detach it. Then, insert the certification envelope into the pre-addressed return envelope that came with your mail-in ballot. Finally, write your name and address and sign the return envelope in the spaces provided.
Your ballot must be postmarked no later than July 7, the day of the primary. You also have the option of delivering your ballot in person to one of five secured drop boxes the county clerk’s office will provide around Monmouth County. Voters should call the County Board of Elections at 732-431-7802 for information regarding drop box locations.
We encourage you to vote by mail as there will be a limited number of polling places open and unless you have a disability, you won’t be allowed to use the machines. Instead, you’ll get a provisional ballot.
Because New Jersey is a closed primary election state, in order to receive a vote-by-mail ballot, unaffiliated voters must choose to be affiliated with the Democratic or Republican party. Unaffiliated registered voters automatically received an “Application for Vote-by-Mail Ballot” and must fill it out and return it in order to receive a ballot with either party’s candidates. The county clerk cannot accept faxed or emailed copies of an Application for Vote by Mail Ballot unless you are in the military or voting from overseas, since an original signature is required. You may return to unaffiliated status following the primary election by completing and returning a Party Declaration Form to the Monmouth County Commissioner of Registration. You can find detailed information about the primary and how to vote at the Monmouth County Votes primary election website, MonmouthCountyVotes.com.
Registered voters who choose to vote in person will have the opportunity to do so, as every town must have at least one polling place open from 6 a.m to 8 p.m. on primary election day. If you’re not sure where to vote in your town, you can find your polling location at voter.svrs.nj.gov/polling-place-search.
If you are not a registered voter already, it is too late to register to vote in the primary. However, we still urge you to go ahead and register at your earliest convenience so you are able to exercise your Constitutional right to vote in the November general election. If you haven’t voted in recent elections and are not sure whether you’re registered or not, you can check your status at voter.svrs.nj.gov/registration-check.
If you have questions about voting in the July 7 primary election and do not find answers at the websites above, please email them to us at [email protected], and we will do our best to answer them. If you need assistance with any state programs or services, you can submit a constituent services request form at tinyurl.com/LD11Help, and a member of our team will reach out to assist you.
Individuals in a democracy have no greater privilege or responsibility than voting. It is our opportunity to have a say in who represents us in Washington, Trenton and on our local governing bodies.
One final note, on July 6, the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs is officially opening its new COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program (CVERAP). If you live in a low-or moderate-income household and need temporary rental assistance because you have lost income or become unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, visit the DCA website at nj.gov/dca for more information.
Vin Gopal, Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey
11th Legislative District