Primarily mail-in ballot election process presenting challenges for Jersey Shore Clerks
In these unprecedented times, there are many challenges with a primarily and universal mail-in ballot/drop off ballot Election process in 2020.
At the Jersey Shore, there have been issues with ballots.
Crates and thousands of ballots being returned to the Monmouth County Clerks office are among the challenges that have popped up in this unprecedented primarily mail-in ballot election in 2020.
Monmouth County Clerk Christine Hanlon explains that ballots typically come back for a variety of reasons mainly issues with the data and information about the individuals current residence or living status not being updated.
"Often times the addresses are not precise, you could have voters who might be deceased, you could have voters who have moved and not updated their voter registration because they might not have realized they had to update their address and you have voters who are temporality away and their mail is being forwarded but the post office doesn't forward ballots, generally speaking," Hanlon tells 92.7 WOBM News. "There are all of these issues that come into play when you just take the voter registration list and mail ballots to all of the active registered voters on the list. There are issues with the data on the list."
Hanlon adds that for every ballot that comes back, her office reviews the matter, and begins to search for where that particular voter currently resides so they can resend their ballot.
"Sometimes it's indicated on the envelope that the voter has moved to another address and then we try our best if the voter is within the county to turn it around and get the ballot to the voter," Hanlon said. "Some of the items we turn over to the Superintendent of Elections who is in charge, in Monmouth County, of the voter history list, so that her office and investigators can look into the issue with that particular voter."
If you've been sitting and waiting to drop off your ballot for the election, you may want to do so today or sooner rather than later.
In this year of a universal mail-in ballot/drop off your paper ballot election, it's going to take a while to count everything which will delay the results from being known.
"This procedure with this primarily mail-in ballot election delays the results," Hanlon said. "There will be some election results in New Jersey on Election Day but the Boards of Elections will be continuing to count and receive ballots after election day."
Hanlon adds that the provisional ballots people drop off at the polls won't be counted for at least a week after the election, so it could take weeks to find out all the results.
"We don't know, as of now, how many of those ballots there will be," Hanlon.
There are more people voting by mail-in than in person than ever before and for obvious reasons but it's presenting a series of challenges for board of elections and county clerks offices.
Ocean County Clerk Scott Colabella says they never mailed out more than 400,000 vote by mail ballots to registered voters for the general election.
In comparison, they sent out about 40,000 during the 2016 presidential election year.
"We're nearing the 190,000 range of the number of ballots that have been returned by Ocean County voters to the Board of Elections," Colabella tells 92.7 WOBM News.
They don't have enough room in the office to count all the ballots and maintain social distance so they're also using the Mancini Auditorium in the Ocean County Library in Toms River.
If you not received a mail-in ballot or thought you didn't or you've spilled something on it or misplaced it, Colabella says in-person assistance is available in the Mancini Auditorium where residents can request a new paper ballot.
"They fill out a one page affidavit explaining they've either lost it or misplaced it, didn't receive it, damaged it...as long as they're registered, everything's in order, they will be reissued another ballot," Colabella said.
He encourages Ocean County voters to mail-in or drop off their ballots prior to election day at one of the 17 drop-off boxes in the county so they can be counted sooner rather than later.