More than 1 million New Jersey voters have cast mail-in ballots for the Nov. 3 election.
In all, 1,047,779 were received by the counties as of Tuesday night, according to the state Division of Elections.
And thanks to the ability to register to vote online, which ended on Tuesday, New Jersey now has more than 6 million active registered voters, the state said.
Gov. Phil Murphy trumpeted New Jersey crossing the 1 million-vote threshold in a tweet on Wednesday.
In Somerset County, more than 45,000 of the 250,000 ballots that were mailed out were completed and returned as of Tuesday, said Nathan Rudy, a spokesman for the county.
More ballots will go out for anyone who registered by the Tuesday deadline, he said. And anyone who is an inactive voter but reactivates their registration by Oct. 23 will also be mailed a ballot.
“We feel good about it. This is an unprecedented election with tens of thousands of ballots already received that need to be hand-verified and later hand-opened and counted and it’s going to take some time,” Rudy said.
“We are working well and are asking for the voters' patience as we are going through this new process,” he said.
The county has already started to process ballots and verify signatures, Rudy said.
“If the signature does not match, it is then reviewed by the board members — all four together — two Democrats and two Republicans,” Rudy said. “If they say it’s a match, they put it back in. If they say it’s not a match, the cure process begins.”
Rudy said a voter with a signature problem would get a call or an email about the mismatch, and then they would receive a paper letter with a form they can complete and mail back “with evidence of their residence and certification that it is in fact them.”
Mercer County said it’s been very busy as it works to make sure every active registered voter has a ballot.
“We have continuous phone calls from people who did not receive a ballot because perhaps they moved, or due to a mail delay,” said Mercer County Clerk Paula Sollami Covello. “We also are hearing from voters who may have made a mistake by tearing their envelope. We also continue to mail ballots to newly registered voters.”
As of Tuesday morning, the county sent out 233,002 ballots, it said.
Mercer has faced a challenge, though, because the office was under quarantine because of positive COVID-19 tests earlier this month.
“We have continued to receive ballots and will be able to start scanning receipts within the next day or so,” Anthony Francioso, chairman and member of the board of elections, said Tuesday. “We on average receive 1,500 to 2,000 per day.”
They will start to check signatures next week, he said, and they “are hopeful” they will have 20 to 25 people working on that process.
“We are anticipating returning to normal next week and keep the process going,” Francioso said. “For the level of increased voter participation and amount of ballots, we feel that the process is working well.”
Hunterdon County said it sent out about 98,000 ballots, and about 32,700 have already been submitted by voters.
The four bipartisan board members have already started to check signatures, and they are sending letters to voters who need to verify their signatures, the county said.
Election officials estimate that 62% of ballots came through a secure drop box, 25% came through the postal service and 13% were returned in person.
In Camden County, 355,000 ballots have been sent out, and as of Tuesday, 80,548 mail-in ballots were received, election officials said.
So far, 61,211 ballots have come from daily pick-ups at the Blackwood Post Office, said Dan Keashen, a spokesman for the county.
He said 23,370 ballots have been picked up at drop boxes while 3,967 ballots were hand-delivered to the board of elections office.
“Each day we make sure to process and receive every ballot that is hand delivered, mailed, and placed in a drop box into the statewide voter registration system so the voting public can look up the status of their ballot and know it is safe in our hands,” Keashen said. “We have half ready for opening and counting, and half ready for signature verification before opening and counting.”