How to vote in NJ before Election Day

We can vote early in NJ even though we don’t have what is technically called “early voting,” because we can vote by paper ballot. There are three ways to vote early the week before Election Day:
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  1. Mail in the Application to Vote by Mail.
    • Application must be received by the Tuesday before Election Day (7 days before Election Day).
    • Your paper ballot will be delivered to you by the USPS.
    • Fill out and send back the paper ballot by USPS, and your 100% full-fledged, legal vote will be cast.
    • To be counted, the ballot must be received by the Board of Elections by 8pm on Election Day.
  2. Assign a messenger to get your ballot and submit it for you (requires two trips to the County offices).
    • Fill out a Vote by Mail form and in the Authorized Messenger area, write the name and address of a voter registered in your county whom you wish to designate as your messenger. (Yes, I know you’re not voting by mail, but you’re required to use the same form.)
    • The assigned messenger brings your VBM form into the County Clerk’s Office and a paper ballot in generated for you (this usually takes about 15 minutes). The hand-delivered Vote By Mail form must be given to the County Clerk before 3pm the day before Election Day.
    • Your Authorized Messenger brings you back the ballot.
    • You fill in the ballot and the Authorized Messenger brings it back to the County Building, to the Board of Elections Office.
    • The Authorized Messenger “signs in” your ballot. And voilà! you have voted.
  3. Go in person to the County Clerk’s Office and vote by paper ballot without leaving the building.
    • You must return your ballot by 3pm the day before Election Day.
    • Some counties offer Saturday hours before a general election as a convenience to voters but not all do. Call your County Clerk’s Office to find out if your county offers special hours.
    • In Bergen County, you can vote by paper ballot during these hours for the 2013 General Election: 9am-4:30pm Monday-Friday, 9am-1pm Saturday & 9am-3pm on Monday, the day before Election Day.
    • Fill out your Vote by Mail form (you can download it or get it at the County Clerk’s office).
    • Bring it into the County Clerk’s office where a paper ballot will be generated for you (this usually takes about 15 minutes).
    • After your ballot is filled out, bring it to the Board of Elections Office (usually in the same building) and hand in your ballot. Voilà! You have voted.
  4. Go before a judge and request permission to vote.
    The voting rights of New Jersey citizens are considered extremely important and valuable. If you have attempted to register to vote, or intended to cast your vote either by mail or as a paper ballot and missed the deadline or found yourself unable to vote for any reason, New Jersey state allows you to petition via the judicial system for the right to vote. Petitions to vote are given top priority in courtrooms throughout New Jersey and on Election Day, when courts are closed for most matters, judges are on hand to hear petitions to vote.

    Petitioning a judge for the right to vote is not a lengthy procedure. It probably takes under 90 minutes from start to finish. After 3pm the day before Election Day through the end of Election Day, you can appear before a judge and exercise your right to be allowed to vote in the current election. If a judge grants you the right to vote, the vote you cast will be a full-fledged, legal vote (it will not be a provisional vote).

Some points to consider

  • Remember, you cannot fax in the Vote by Mail form unless you’re in the military, or are a U.S. citizen residing outside the country, since ballots require an original signature.
  • And by the way, Election Day in New Jersey is always the 1st Tuesday in November following the 1st Monday of the month. And polls are open from 6am-8pm.
  • Be prepared for the unexpected! Take a look at New Jersey Voter Resources and Voter’s Rights.

3 Replies to “How to vote in NJ before Election Day”

  1. Re: general election ballot in NJ

    1. Do I have to vote along party lines?

    2. Can I skip voting for office titles where I am not familiar with the candidates?

    1. Ooops! Sorry I was under the weather and missed your question. I hope these answers help you out next election ..

      Although campaigns, primary elections and political representatives’ caucuses are run along party lines, general elections do not run that way. In general elections, you are welcome to vote for any candidate you like. A Dem can vote for Republicans and vice-versa.

      In primary elections that take place months before the general elections do in November, people who are not affiliated with a party and people who are members of the Democrat or Republican Parties, vote to elect the candidates that will run in the general elections. The act of voting in a primary election is a declaration of party affiliation for non-affiliated voters. In primary elections, you can only vote for candidates of a single political party and if you’re a declared Dem or Republican, you can only vote for members of the party you’re affiliated with.

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