How to Vote by Mail

From the League of Women Voters

Voting by mail? Here are the 5 top reasons N.J. mail-in ballots were rejected during the primary.

Updated 12:39 PM; Today 8:44 AM 2,042sharesBy

Karin Price Mueller | NJ Advance Media for

New Jerseyans who are used to voting by machine will instead receive mail-in ballots for the Nov. 3 election. Some ballots have already been mailed out by the counties.

We got a taste of how it works during the primaries earlier this year.

And we learned why ballots are most commonly rejected.

According to an analysis of state data by NJ Spotlight, nearly 35,000 ballots, or 2.7% of the 1.28 million mail-in ballots cast, were rejected for one of 18 reasons.

Here’s a look at the top five.

1. Late ballots

More than a quarter of all rejected mail-in ballots were rejected because they arrived too late, according to the analysis.

Given concerns about the ability of the postal service to deliver ballots on time for the general election, you can instead use secure drop boxes in your county.

See a list of ballot box locations here.

Another option is to drop off your ballot at your polling place on Election Day.

2. Missing certificates

Your mail-in ballot comes in three important pieces: the ballot itself, an envelope into which you place the ballot and a second envelope that’s postage-paid and addressed to your board of elections.

The envelope in which you place the ballot has a certificate attached. Voters must sign the certificate for a ballot to count, but more than 17% of primary ballots were rejected because the voters didn’t return the certificate.

3. Ballots were not enclosed

More than 10% of rejected mail-in ballots were rejected because voters forgot to include the ballot.

4. Signatures didn’t match

More than 12% of rejected ballots, or about 4,200, were rejected because the signature didn’t match the voter books.

The report said 19 of the 21 counties sent 15,900 “cure” letters to voters and about 43% were able to fix their ballots so they could be counted. No information was reported for Cape May County or Middlesex County, the report said.

For this election, if a voter’s signature is in question, county boards of elections will have 24 hours to send the letters, which will tell voters how to reconcile their signatures.

“That will happen both before and after Election Day,” said Jesse Burns, executive director of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey. “So ballots processed on Election Day and after are still eligible to be cured. Voters have until 48 before before final certification of election results to cure ballots.”

5. Certificates weren’t signed

Nearly 6% of rejected mail-in ballots were rejected because the voter forgot to sign the certificate attached to the ballot envelope.

Election officials are expected to reach out to voters who make these errors, to see if a ballot can be “cured.”

here's a tip - use a ball point pen to mark the ballot. I used a fine point sharpie and it bleeds through to the other side. Had to use white-out to clean it up.

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