Union County, NJ – Union County Board of Elections Administrator Nicole DiRado responds to questions about the 2020 General Election in the following letter-to-the editor:
I would like to take this opportunity to respond to a Cranford resident who raised a number of very important questions about the upcoming November 3 General Election in a recent letter published in the Westfield Leader. In fact, many voters have the same questions as there are many changes taking place.
It is very important for voters to have access to reliable, informed guidance regarding elections, and all the more so this year as we implement measures to administer a Presidential General Election amidst a global pandemic. By Executive Order of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, the General Election will take place primarily through Vote-by-Mail ballots.
With that in mind, I encourage voters to visit the Board of Elections website at ucnj.org/boe for accurate, up-to-date information about the General Election, including tips for making sure your Vote-by-Mail ballot counts and answers to frequently asked questions. By September 15, updated polling locations will be available and by the end of September, updated locations for the next set of ballot drop boxes will be available.
Since the letter raised several questions about the ballot drop boxes, I would like to remind voters that the number of drop boxes will increase, from the five boxes available during the July 7 Primary Election to 13 for the upcoming General Election.
Each drop box is secure and accessible only by Union County Board of Elections staff. The drop boxes will be emptied on a daily basis by a bipartisan team. In addition, each of the drop boxes will be under 24/7 camera surveillance. The original five locations are listed at ucnj.org/boe, and the additional locations will be available by the end of September.
The letter also raised concerns about delays in mail delivery. As a matter of course in every election, I strongly advise Vote-by-Mail voters to fill out and return their ballot as soon as they receive it, in order to ensure that it is delivered on time.
To account for delays in U.S. Mail service, ballots that are postmarked on or before November 3 will be counted if they are received by the Board of Elections by November 10. Ballots received by our office through the postal service without a postmark will also be counted, but only if they are received by November 5.
There are many other options available to voters to return their ballots to the Union County Board of Elections:
- Drop off the ballot at a designated, secure drop box.
- Deliver the ballot by hand to the Union County Board of Electionsoffice in Elizabeth at 271 North Broad Street, or to the Union County Clerk’s offices at 2 Broad Street, Room 113 in Elizabeth or 300 North Avenue East in Westfield. Voters wishing to hand deliver their ballots must present either a NJ Driver’s License or an NJ-issued Identification Card and sign a registry, pursuant to existing statutes.
- Designate a person to deliver your ballot for you. The Vote-by-Mail ballots include instructions on how to designate a ballot bearer. By law, one ballot bearer may deliver up to three ballots for other voters. Bearer ballots must be delivered to the Board of Elections in Elizabeth.
- Voters can also drop off their Vote-by-Mail ballots at their designated polling place on Election Day until the polls close at 8:00 p.m. This is a new option for the first time in this General Election. Voters can go to their designated polling location, wait in line, sign the poll book, and give their ballot to the poll worker who will place it in a secure transfer box.
On Election Day, Tuesday November 3, the Union County Election Board, the County Clerk’s Offices and the ballot drop boxes will remain open until 8:00 p.m.
Please note that voters without a Vote-by-Mail ballot can vote in person at their designated polling place. In-person voters must wear masks, observe social distance, and use a paper, provisional ballot in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. ADA-compliant voting machines will be available only for people with disabilities who cannot use a provisional paper ballot.
I hope this information answers most of the questions voters may have about the General Election. Again, voters should feel free to contact my office with any other questions or concerns they may have by calling 908-527-4123 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. My professional staff will be happy to assist.
Very Sincerely Yours,
Nicole L. DiRado, CMC, MPA
Administrator, Union County Board of Elections
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