Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi Dispels Misinformation about Mail-in-Ballots
Union County, NJ – Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi is providing voters with answers to frequently asked questions regarding Vote-by-Mail procedures in advance of the November 3 General Election.
“Inaccurate information can easily travel across social media, which makes it all the more important for voters to become familiar with Vote-by-Mail,” added Ms. Rajoppi. “Vote-by-Mail is a reliable and accurate way to vote.”
To help voters learn about voting in the General Election, Ms. Rajoppi has posted FAQs on the County Clerk’s elections website, unioncountyvotes.com, and on the free Union County Votes mobile app.
Among the most frequently asked questions are:
Why are we voting by mail this year
The Governor and New Jersey State Legislature mandated a primarily Vote-by Mail election due to concerns with the COVID-19 pandemic. Vote-by-Mail is not new. It’s been around since the Civil War and currently, 9 states and the District of Columbia conduct elections exclusively with Vote-by-Mail is currently being used in 9 states and the District of Columbia. Five of those states have a long history of reliable Vote-by-Mail elections. The Vote-by-Mail system does not favor any political party over the other.
When are the ballots being mailed?
The ballots will be mailed in waves beginning the week of September 15th. Please check unioncountyvotes.com for the dates for each municipality. Your local municipal website will also list the ballot mailing dates for your town.
What is ballot harvesting?
“Ballot harvesting” is a phrase used to describe the real and legitimate practice of designating someone to drop off your ballot. This ballot return option is important for the elderly, individuals with disabilities and those forced to quarantine. A person can carry up to 3 ballots.
To prevent fraud and protect privacy, voters must first sign and seal their ballots in the certified envelope and the person carrying the ballot must then include their name, address and signature on the envelope. Tampering with a ballot or not submitting a ballot is a crime.
Can you print a ballot from the internet?
All legitimate Vote-by-Mail ballots are assigned a unique barcode associated to each specific registered voter and are sent through the U.S. Postal Service. The Vote-by-Mail envelope clearly states “Official Mail in Ballot.” Any attempt to copy or reproduce a ballot for any purpose is a crime.
Does Vote-by–Mail promote voter fraud?
National statistics and studies show that voter fraud through Vote-by-Mail is almost non-existent. A recent Washington Post analysis looked at 3 states with all Vote-by-Mail elections (Colorado, Oregon and Washington) and found just 372 potential irregularities among 14.6 million voters, translating to a margin of irregularity of 0.0025%.
The election system has safeguards also to prevent fraud. First only active voters will receive a vote by mail ballot. The ballot will have a barcode associated with a specific voter. After filling out the ballot the voter must sign the Certificate envelope before returning it.
Voters can then track their ballot to ensure that the Board of Elections receives and accepts it. The BOE scans the barcode on each ballot to confirm the voter has not already cast a ballot and reviews the signature on the Certificate Envelope to confirm that it matches the signature in the voter registration database.
It is against the law to vote twice.
Who can assist me with filling out a vote by mail ballot?
A relative or friend can assist you with filling out a Vote-by-Mail ballot. The person assisting must print and sign their name of the Certificate envelope. They can also mail your ballot by filling out the front of the envelope. No one can deliver more than three ballots on behalf of voters. Candidates running for any elected office cannot assist with filling out a Vote-by-Mail ballot and cannot carry ballots for anyone.
I’ve never voted by mail before and don’t know the procedure?
A step by step how-to brochure is enclosed with every ballot to help voters with the process. Voters with questions or concerns are asked to call the office of the Union County Clerk Elections Division at 908-527-4996.
What if I do not receive my ballot?
All ballots for registered voters will be in the mail by October 5. If voters do not receive their ballots by October 13 (8 days from final mailing), they are asked to contact the Union County Clerk Election Division by calling 908-527-4996.
Do I have to mail my completed ballot?
Mailing the ballot is just one option. Ballots can be deposited in one of 21 ballot boxes placed around the county. These boxes are under surveillance and picked up by authorized Board of Election personnel on a regular basis. Locations of the boxes can be found by visiting unioncountyvotes.com or ucnj.org/ucboe.
Additionally, voters can drop off their ballots at:
Union County Clerk’s Office, 2 Broad Street, Room 113, Elizabeth
Union County Clerk’s Office, 300 North Avenue East, Westfield
Union County Board of Elections, 271 North Broad Street, Elizabeth
How do I register to vote for the November 3rd election?
Those wishing to register to vote can download a voter registration application from unioncountyvotes.com. Fill it out and mail it no later than October 13 in order to be eligible to vote in the General Election on November 3.
For more information about all County Clerk programs and services, visit online at ucnj.org/county-clerk or call 908-527-4787.
For more information and updates on all Union County services during the COVID-19 outbreak, including guidance on the free Drive-Through Test Center at Kean University, visit ucnj.org/coronavirus-update.
For general information about COVID-19 and phone contacts for 24/7 assistance with questions, visit the New Jersey Department of Health at nj.gov/health.
Connect with Union County on social media.