With the Nov. 3 general election driven entirely by mail-in-ballots, voters have four ways to safely submit their ballots, Sussex County officials say.
“Early voting will decide election winners,” said county clerk Jeff Parrott. “Vote early, be engaged.”
By voting early, Parrott said, any discrepancy from a submitted ballot, such as a signature discrepancy, can be fixed quickly.
The process begins with the ballot that each voter should have received in the mail by the first week of October. Once a voter completes that ballot as instructed, the final step is placing it into the supplied envelope and submitting it to the Sussex County Board of Elections. There are four options to return mail-in ballots:
Option 1: Drop boxes
Deposit completed ballots in one of several secure drop boxes, situated in the following locations countywide:
● Andover Borough Municipal Building, 137 Main St., Andover
● Andover Township Municipal Building, 134 Newton Sparta Road, Newton
● Frankford Municipal Building, 151 US Highway 206, Augusta
● Franklin Municipal Building, 46 Main St., Franklin
● Hardyston Municipal Building, 149 Wheatsworth Road, Hamburg
● Hopatcong Municipal Building, 111 River Styx Road, Hopatcong
● Montague Township Municipal Building, 277 Clove Road, Montague
● Newton Municipal Building, 39 Trinity St., Newton
● Sandyston Municipal Building, 133 Route 645, Sandyston
● Sparta Municipal Building, 65 Main St., Sparta
● Vernon Municipal Building, 21 Church St., Vernon
● Wantage Municipal Building, 888 Route 23, Wantage
Sussex County residents can drop their ballots into any of these secure drop boxes, regardless of the municipality that they live in.
Each of these drop boxes is monitored by 24-hour surveillance, with the ballots retrieved once daily by a Republican and Democrat representative working in concert to retrieve them. Ballots will be picked up at each of these boxes nightly through election day.
Option 2: Hand delivery
Ballots can be hand-delivered to the board of elections office at 83 Spring St., Suite 305, in Newton. Voters who opt for hand-delivery must provide identification.
Option 3: Mail
Voters may mail their completed ballot to the board of elections through the U.S. Postal Service in the prepaid, first-class envelope that came with their ballot. Those that are mailed must be postmarked by Nov. 3 and must arrive at the Sussex County Board of Elections no later than Nov. 9 in order to count.
Option 4: Polling place drop-off
Voters can choose to bring their mail-in ballot to their assigned polling place on election day. Parrott said that by Oct. 23, voters should receive a six-by-nine-inch postcard with their assigned polling location. However, voters can only bring their own vote-by-mail ballot to their designated polling location. They cannot be the bearer for anyone else.
The only voters this year who will be permitted to use the voting machines at the polling locations will be those with disabilities that will prevent them from using ballots mailed to their home, such as those who are visually impaired. Those who would like to vote at a polling location must use the ballot they receive in the mail.
Those who show up at the polls without their ballot will be given a “provisional” paper ballot, which is counted after the deadline for vote-by-mail ballots. Parrott said the provisional count delays the final results of the election and encourages voters to vote with the ballot the county clerk’s office mails to them.
The voter may request a duplicate ballot if they never received their ballot, inadvertently dispose of their ballot, find an error on their ballot, or make an error filling out their ballot. To request a replacement ballot, contact the county clerk’s office as quickly as possible online at sussexcountyclerk.org/elections or call the office at 973-579-0900.
“This exclusive vote-by-mail process wasn’t our choice,” said Sussex County Freeholder Joshua Hertzberg. Freeholders unanimously voted on a resolution in August opposing it. “However, this is the system we have to work with. We have faith in our county clerk’s office in handling the process of distributing ballots, and we encourage everyone to vote.”
“Early voting will decide election winners. Vote early, be engaged.” --Sussex County Clerk Jeff Parrott