With just 19 days until the 2020 election, The Setonian has compiled a guide on how to vote in Essex County and its neighboring counties.
New Jersey voters can decide to vote in-person or by mail this election. Several polling places throughout Essex County have been established, including Seton Hall’s Walsh Library and Newark’s “super polling site” at Prudential Center. The polls will open at 6 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. on Nov. 3.
The deadline for voter registration passed on October 13. Voters who will submit ballots in other states may still be able to register.
Although in-person voting places will be available throughout New Jersey, the state plans to hold the election “primarily” by mail, according to the New Jersey COVID-19 Information Hub’s website.
“Ensuring that every voter has the ability to securely cast their ballot while protecting public health is our paramount concern,” Murphy said after signing an executive order in late August that authorized the state to send out an absentee mail ballot to every registered voter in New Jersey. Murphy cited concerns about the ability of people to participate in the electoral process in the midst of a pandemic if the state’s vote by mail was not expanded.
“COVID-19 has impacted nearly every aspect of our lives, from our health and safety to how we participate in our democracy,” Murphy said in a press release. “This virus continues to threaten public health, and with today’s announcement, we are ensuring that New Jersey voters do not have to make a decision between exercising their right to vote and protecting their well-being.”
Mail-in voting is an option for voters who may not be able to make it to the polls or who choose to vote early. Once voter registration is confirmed, all New Jersey voters should receive their ballot in the mail with full instructions on how to complete the process.
New Jersey voters who vote in person on Election Day will fill out a provisional ballot, which will be counted after all mail-in ballots have been received — which may be as late as November 10.
Gerard Shea, a librarian at Seton Hall, confirmed that students can use the University’s address as their permanent address for voting. However, this is “if they register the University as their permanent address before voting,” Shea said.
According to the Essex County Board of Elections, Seton Hall's Walsh Library will again serve as a polling place for certain residents of South Orange who prefer to vote in-person. Polling places are determined by the address of the voter, and according to the South Orange Village Clerk's website, individuals will "receive a sample ballot about 1 week before the election that will indicate where your polling place is."
Mail-in ballots also come with a brochure of instructions for voters to cast their vote. After marking the ballot and completing the certification paperwork that came with the ballot, voters are ready to seal their ballots in the designated envelope.
Once the ballot is completed and sealed, there are four ways to submit the vote.
As per Murphy’s executive order, a voter can return their mail-in ballot via U.S. Postal Service but it must be postmarked by Nov. 3 and received by the county board of elections by Nov. 10.
Voters can also bring ballots to their designated in-person polling location or to a secure ballot drop box by 8 p.m. on election day. There are 23 ballot boxes in Essex County. The South Orange ballot box is located under the gazebo across from the South Orange Fire Department on 56 Sloan Street.
Other nearby secure ballot box locations can be found in the cities of Orange, West Orange, Maplewood, and Newark. Voters can also choose to submit their mail-in ballot directly to the Essex County Board of Elections Office in Newark.
Each county has established their individual board of elections and set up polling places and secure ballot boxes in their area. Basic information on in-person and mail-in voting can be found on their websites.
For specific polling places and ballot boxes in some of the surrounding counties Hudson County Board of Elections, Bergen County Board of Elections, Passaic County Board of Elections, Middlesex County Board of Elections and Union County Board of Elections.
Laura Maltez-Barahona can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org