Sandy aftermath: N.J. voters can vote by email, fax, walk-in, more
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie says he wants every registered voter to have a chance to vote in the 2012 general elections. He also is encouraging early voting to reduce the time it will take to tally votes after the polls close Tuesday at 8 p.m.
"It'll take us a little longer to count the votes this year," Christie said at a news conference Nov. 2 in Brick Township, "but you know, it'll probably be a late night anyway."
Several directives have been put in place to provide more ways for voters to submit their ballots in time for Tuesday's general elections. These include voting by e-mail and fax, extended county election office hours for early in-person voters, extra support at polling places, and allowing displaced voters to use polling locations in other counties.
New Jersey's barrier island communities were hit particularly hard during superstorm Sandy, leaving many residents displaced and thousands of homes and businesses still without power. This has raised concerns that many voters might find it too difficult to vote.
"Government is here for moments like this, when one person helping another just isn't enough. The collective has to come together to rebuild our state, and that's what we're going to do," Christie said.
Ways to vote in New Jersey
E-mail or Fax
Displaced first responders and residents of hard-hit areas will be allowed to vote in this year's general election by e-mail or fax.
The process, which already has been available to military and overseas voters, was extended to displaced voters in an announcement made Saturday, Nov. 3 by the New Jersey Department of State.
To vote electronically, displaced voters can choose to submit a mail-in ballot application by e-mail or fax to their county clerk. Once an application is approved, the clerk will electronically send a ballot to the voter by either fax or e-mail in accordance to the voter's preference. Voters must return their electronic ballot – by fax or email – no later than 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 6.
Ballot applications can be downloaded on the state's website (which does not yet reflect this new directive).
Hand-deliver a paper ballot to your county office
Registered voters can go to their county clerk offices in person to apply for and receive a paper ballot (even though it's technically called a "mail-in ballot"). Then voters can complete and hand-deliver the ballot to their county election commission by 3 p.m. Tuesday.
Christie has ordered that all state county clerk offices remain open both days this weekend and to operate on extended hours through Tuesday.
In Trenton's county offices Saturday afternoon, the turnout was light but steady. The staff cheerfully provided assistance navigating the process.
"We're have a steady stream of traffic dropping off ballots. It looks like people are engaged with the voting process," said Paul Domini, commissioner for the Board of Elections of Mercer County. "However, I'm sure the storm is going to impact the number of people that vote. Some people are more concerned with getting electricity turned on in their house and getting trees off their roofs than they are about voting."
In person at your polling place
If your polling place is open and has power, then you can vote there in the usual way.
For those polling locations that can open but do not have electricity, Christie said Friday that he will have National Guard troops bring in trucks with "a big sign showing you where to go. Go in there, and vote 'old-school,' with a paper ballot."
However, polling places in the hardest-hit areas may have been relocated because they cannot open or are no longer there.
The governor said at a news conference Saturday, Nov. 3, that anyone who doesn't know where to vote can text 877877 on Tuesday morning with your address and you will receive a text with your polling location. There is also a map that lets you see where your polling place and where you can vote early.
Princeton voters also can call the Public Library, 609-924-9529, ext. 220 or ext. 218, to find out their polling locations. Some Princeton polling places may have moved twice this year due to the storm and the merger of the township and borough into one entity.
In person at a different polling place
Another directive issued Saturday allows displaced voters to use polling places in counties other than the ones in which they have registered.
Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 5 to be counted. The deadline for mail-in ballots to be received by county election commissions has been extended to Nov. 19.
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