Maintaining Our Democracy: Cast Your Vote

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a presidential election coming up. While every election is important, seldom has the integrity of the election process been more in question then now. Adding to the integrity issue is the shock of the coronavirus epidemic.

The sanctity of the right to vote — and I don’t use the word sanctity lightly — is one of the most fundamental rights in a democracy. It is the one inviolable right that separates us from other forms of government.

To ensure that we count every vote legally and responsibly, I have introduced legislation that helps to maintain our democratic ideals by safeguarding the voting process. These include:

Senate Bill No. S2671. Requires voted ballots received within seven days after polls close to be valid and canvassed if postmarked by election day; allows voters to cure ballot signature defects; extends primary and general election certification deadlines. Errors occur in any undertaking. This bill ensures that within a reasonable time, the board of elections has seven days to correct any votes — for example, a signature error — before certifying the final count.

Senate Bill No. S2580. Requires county boards of election to establish ballot drop boxes in each county at least seven days before an election. Access to voting is the bridge to casting a vote. This bill ensures that you can reasonably have access to a drop box for your note. They should be available in every county, and we should ensure that their locations are known.

Senate Bill No. S2776. Requires each county board of elections to mail a notice to mail-in voters after each election confirming the ballot was received and counted. To paraphrase a former U.S. president, I trust the board of elections, but this verifies that they counted your vote.

Here’s what you need to know about voting during these trying times.

  • Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order for the Nov. 3 election will result in a hybrid voting system, with the emphasis on mail-in ballots. The coronavirus pandemic is the culprit.
  • All registered voters in New Jersey will receive a ballot in the mail.

  • You can return the ballot by 1) mailing it in; 2) dropping it off at a secure box (there will be at least 10 boxes in every county); or taking it to a polling place on Election Day.

  • Voting in person is still available. However, there is a difference this year. You will cast a provisional ballot, which officials will count later. This permits them to confirm that you didn’t vote by mail.

  • Schools will be closed on Election Day.

  • There will be a new online voter registration system to give individuals the opportunity to register for voting. The deadline to register is October 13th. Here is the link to online voter registration:

    https://voter.svrs.nj.gov/register

  • If you didn’t receive a ballot, visit the state’s elections website or call the Voter Protection hot line at 1-877-NJVOTER or contact your legislator.

After all this, you still might wonder: Was my vote counted? I strongly recommend tracking your ballot. Visit https://www.nj.gov/state/elections/index.shtml and register for its “Track Your Mail-in Ballot.” It only takes a minute, and you can verify that the board of elections counted your vote.

That’s my take, what’s yours?


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