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Check your Registration before October!

9/15/20  The Mercer County Clerk advises:  check that your registration information is correct!  You can check your registration here. However, if it comes back that you are not registered and you think you should be, email:

Catherine DiCostanzo
Mercer County Superintendent of Elections
609- 989- 6770
cdicostanzo@mercercounty.org

Polling place postcards sent out for people who want to vote provisionally (in person)

            In preparation for the 2020 General Election on November 3, Mercer County Clerk Paula Sollami Covello and the Mercer County Superintendent of Elections Cathy DiCostanzo have commenced the mailing of postcards denoting the polling places for Mercer County residents. This is for residents who prefer to vote at the polls on a provisional (paper) ballot.

                The postcard will contain the polling location, complete with the address and voting districts it will serve. A full list of polling locations can be seen here. The polls will be open from 6:00am to 8:00 pm on Election Day. For those who have a documented physical or visual impairment, machines will be available at their respective polling place. 

                It should be noted that the postcards only apply to voters who have not already voted by mail. If you plan on voting by mail, you have the option of returning your voted ballot to your polling place on Election Day. 

                If you receive a postcard, mail in ballot, or any official election material   for a person who is no longer registered to vote at your address (if they have moved, are deceased, or any other reason), please do not destroy or discard the postcard. It should be placed back in the mailbox with a short written request to take the person off of the voting list and the reason for doing so (i.e., “deceased”, “no longer lives at this address”, etc.). This is to help the voter registration office maintain the most up-to-date voter records. 

                Per Executive Order 177, the November 3 General Election is primarily a vote-by-mail election. Mail-in ballots have been sent to every active voter in New Jersey. Voters who vote by mail have the option of mailing in their ballot on Election Day, walking it into the Mercer County Board of Elections at 1440 Parkside Avenue in Ewing, dropping it off at their polling place as previously mentioned, or dropping it in one of the 16 secure drop boxes throughout Mercer County. A full list of drop boxes can be found here.

                For more information about this election, please call the Mercer Elections Hotline at 609-278-2719 or email mercervotes@mercercounty.org. You can also call the Superintendent of Elections at 609-989-6750 with any registration questions.

News from the BOE

Copied from the Mercer County Clerk’s FB page:

SHARING AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM THE MERCER COUNTY BOARD OF ELECTIONS REGARDING BALLOT TRACKING:Dear Resident/Registered Voter: At the present time, the Mercer County Board of Elections is receiving mail and mail-in ballots, as well as retrieving ballots from the ballot drop boxes. The Office is operating on a temporary basis due to positive COVID-19 cases. The Board has established a procedure to allow for in-person delivery of ballots at 1440 Parkside Avenue, Ewing, NJ. In addition, a ballot drop box has been installed at 1440 Parkside Avenue, Ewing. Your ballot is secured in a locked vault and will start to be processed as soon as possible so you can track. Please accept our apologies for any delay but kindly grant us some time to catch up and continue with the process that was under way.(The Mercer County Board of Elections is a bi-partisan Board that oversees ballot counting, polling locations, and drop boxes.)

County Clerk will have late hours Tuesday October 13

From the Clerk’s FB: The office of the Mercer County clerk will be CLOSED on Monday, October 12 in observation of the Columbus Day holiday, along with all county offices. However, we will be open late on Tuesday, October 13th until 8 PM to accept voter registration forms -and to accept walk-in voters for vote-by-mail. If you have an issue with your ballot, you can contact our office on Tuesday or any other business day at 609-989-6494 or 609-989-6495. Or email Vote@mercercounty.org for assistance.

March to Trenton to vote!

Saturday, October 24, 2020 at 12 PM EDT

Trenton War Memorial

Public · Hosted by Crystal FelicianoBernard McMullan and 2 others

Calling everyone in Trenton and in Mercer County to come out and join us for this monumental event! We want everyone that can to come out and March to the Ballot Box on October 24th.

We will meet at the Trenton War Memorial Building located at 1 Memorial Drive in Trenton and hear from a few guest speakers about the importance of voting and how critical the November 3rd election truly is.

Following the short program, we will march to the ballot box located behind City Hall (near the Clerk’s Office) and place our ballots in the box!

People will also be present to help you fill out your ballot if you need assistance.

* Come and bring your friends and family and if you are a part of an organization, come dressed to represent!
* Come even if you have already voted, this is a March representing UNITY!
* Come but be sure to wear your mask for safety!
* Come because your vote and your voice matter!

For more information, contact Bernard McMullan, Event Chair (609) 334-7027 or Crystal Feliciano, Event Co-Chair (609) 960-5489.
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¡Llamando a todos en Trenton y en el condado de Mercer a venir y unirse a nosotros para este evento monumental! Queremos que todos los que puedan salir y marchar a la urna el 24 de octubre.

Nos reuniremos en el edificio Conmemorativo de la Guerra de Trenton, ubicado en 1 Memorial Drive en Trenton, y escucharemos a algunos oradores invitados sobre la importancia de votar y lo crítica que es la elección del 3 de noviembre.

Después del programa corto, marcharemos a la urna ubicada detrás del Ayuntamiento (cerca de la Oficina del Secretario) y colocaremos nuestras papeletas en la caja!

Las personas también estarán presentes para ayudarle a llenar su boleta si necesita ayuda.

* ven y trae a tus amigos y familiares y si eres parte de una organización, ven vestido para representar!
* ¡ven incluso si ya has votado, esta es una marcha que representa LA UNIDAD! * Venga, pero asegúrese de llevar la mascarilla por seguridad.
* Venga porque su voto y su voz importan!

Para obtener más información, póngase en contacto con Bernard McMullan, Event Chair (609) 334-7027 o Crystal Feliciano, Event Co-Chair (609) 960-5489.

Reminder about the back of the ballot

Attention Mercer County Voters: Don’t forget about the back of your ballot! Three important questions need to be answered by you, the voter! The first of those questions is Question 1, which concerns the legalization of cannabis in New Jersey. If passed, it would establish a new Constitutional amendment in the State to legalize recreational use of cannabis for residents 21 and older. The Cannabis Regulatory Commission would oversee the new adult cannabis market, and all retail sales of cannabis products in the new adult cannabis market would be subject to the State’s sales tax. Again, please don’t forget to turn over your ballot to see this question and more! Don’t miss out on the chance to make your voice heard! – From Mercer County Clerk Paula Sollami-Covello’s facebook page.

News from Mercer County 10/8

Election Day is Nov. 3: How to vote in Mercer County 

NJ VotesThe Nov. 3 general election in New Jersey will be primarily vote by mail to help protect against COVID-19. A prepaid return-postage vote-by- mail ballot has been mailed to all active registered New Jersey voters. If you do not receive your vote-by-mail ballot by Oct. 14, please contact the Mercer County Clerk’s Office at 609-989-6494 or 609-989-6495.You may return your completed ballot in one of four ways: 
• by U.S. mail, postmarked by Nov. 3
• at one of 16 secure drop-box locations
• at the Mercer County Board of Elections, 1440 Parkside Ave., Ewing
• at your designated polling location by 8 p.m. on Election DaySee the video: How to Fill Out a Vote By Mail Ballot

In-person voting: If you prefer to vote in person, you have the option of doing so at your designated polling location on Nov. 3. Any voter who chooses to cast an in-person vote will do so on a provisional ballot, and all individuals with disabilities will have access to an ADA-conforming voting machine.

Election Dates and Deadlines:
Oct. 13: Last day to register to vote in the General Election.
Oct. 13: Superintendent of Elections Office, 640 South Broad St., will be open until 9 p.m., and County Clerk’s Office, 209 South Broad St., will be open until 7:45 p.m. to accept late voter registration applications.
Oct. 28: All three County election offices will be open until 7:45 p.m. for walk-in ballot voting through vote by mail.
Oct. 31: All three County election offices will be open for walk-in ballot voting through vote by mail. 
Nov. 3: Deadline for mailing your completed ballot.
Nov. 3: Last day to apply in person for mail-in ballot before 8 p.m. at the Mercer County Clerk’s Office, 209 South Broad St., Trenton
Nov 3: General Election Day: Polls are open 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Ballot drop boxes are locked at 8 p.m.

2020 General Election Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question? Call the Mercer Votes hotline at 609-278-2719 or email Mercervotes@mercercounty.org. For more information, visit:
• Mercer County Board of Elections
• Mercer County Clerk 
• Mercer County Superintendent of Elections
• State of New Jersey Voter Information Portal

Ballots are in the mail!

First printed in MercerMe.com:

On Saturday, October 3, Mercer County presented a seminar on voting during the pandemic (expanding on previous notifications covered by MercerMe here and here) during which new information and clarifications were introduced by Mercer County Clerk Sollami-Covello and a panel of other officials, including Anthony Francioso, the Mercer County Board of Elections (BOE) Chair. 

Sollami-Covello reiterated the four different ways voters can turn in their ballot: by mail, in the drop box, at the BOE in Ewing, or at your polling location on election day. If a voter chooses to go to their in-person polling location, Sollami-Covello cautioned that it is advisable to take the mailed ballot and turn that in. Sollami-Covello also noted that there will be far fewer in-person polling locations than usual this year and her office will notify voters of location details by postcard before the election. 

If a voter chooses to vote in-person but does not bring their mailed ballot, the voter will be given a provisional ballot, she explained. A provisional ballot is no different than the paper ballot sent in the mail, but because all registered voters in New Jersey will receive one, she explained, the provisional ballot would have to be checked against the list of mailed ballots to make sure the person did not vote twice, which slows down the process. Sollami-Covello emphasized that all ballots will be counted, but provisional ballots will not be counted until the deadline for receiving ballots (7 days after close of polls)* has passed.

Sollami-Covello said that the last day that her office would be mailing out ballots is Monday, October 5. So, she said, if a voter has not received a ballot by October 15 or thereabouts, they should call the Clerk’s office at 609-989-6494 or 6495.

According to Deputy County Clerk Walker Worthy, the last day to register to vote is October 13. (Check whether you are registered here.) If you believe you should be registered but you find out that you are not, Francioso suggested that you contact the Mercer County Superintendent of Elections.; contact information is here.

Francioso answered one of the more frequent questions MercerMe has seen:  “What happens to ballots once they are put In the secure ballot box?”

Francioso explained that every day, including Sunday, a member of the County Sheriff’s Department drives a van carrying BOE employees to the ballot box sites and the Sheriff’s Department employee supervises the unloading of the ballot box. The BOE employee team is always composed of representatives of each party or one party and an unaffiliated voter. The drop box contains an interior steel box that can hold approximately 300 pounds of ballots. That interior box is removed to the van and a new one installed. The box is taken to the BOE office where the outside envelopes are scanned to make sure they are the only one received for that voter. Then the outer envelope is removed, and the signature is checked to make sure it matches the signature in the system. If everything matches up, the ballot is put in a vault; there are only two keys to the vault and a Democrat has one and a Republican has the other. Both keys are needed in order to open the vault.

Ballots will be held in the vault until 10 days before the election. The Governor has allowed this 10-day head start so that the BOE will have enough time to count. In previous election cycles, the BOE might process 20,000 votes by mail ballots; this year, Sollami-Covello noted that her office will send out more than 230,000 ballots. However, Francioso stated that no reports may be processed until the polls are closed on election day. Francioso emphasized that it is a third degree crime to produce a report or disclose results prior to the close of polls. Sollami-Covello indicated that her office will post the results they have on election night, but they will keep counting until November 20. 

Francioso also talked about signature matching. Once ballots begin to come in to the BOE, he explained, they are required to meet up to four times per week to go through certification envelopes that have been flagged as having a signature that does not match.  If the BOE believes there is a problem with a signature, they will contact the voter by mail with the opportunity to provide information to “cure” the issue.

Bonnie Epps, the County Clerk’s office Superintendent of Elections emphasized that it is very important to follow directions in completing the ballot. She emphasized:

·  Look at both the back and front of the ballot to make sure you see everything there is to vote for;

·  When your ballot is complete, fold it and put it in the certification envelope.  Print your name, address, and sign it. Pull off the sticky strip and seal all the way across the envelope;

·  Put the certification envelope inside the return envelope. Make sure your name and address shows on the outside, then seal it up, and it is ready to be sent.

Sollami-Covello answered another often-asked question: “Why can’t we vote on machines?” She explained that since the Governor ordered a primarily by mail election to protect people from exposure to COVID-19, ballots must be completed on paper. There is no way to track a machine-cast vote, she said. Since every registered voter is receiving a ballot, County officials need a way to be able to match those mailed out ballots against the votes cast and the only way to do that is by paper. People who certify that they have a disability that requires the use of a machine will be allowed to do so, but it will necessitate a wait: poll workers will need to call the BOE to confirm a ballot has not already been received for that person before they are allowed to vote.

Lastly, Sollami-Covello answered the question what to do if a household receives a ballot for a person who is deceased or doesn’t live there anymore. First, she emphasized that it is a crime for a person to submit someone else’s ballot. This is why signatures are checked, she explained. She said that in the case of a deceased person, if the family does not notify the BOE, it will take two federal elections before the person is purged from the voter rolls. The best thing you can do if you erroneously receive a ballot is to return it to the BOE marked Deceased or Moved as the case may be.

For all the information you need for Election Day 2020, click on the Election Day 2020 link at the top of the MercerMe homepage.

*Article edited 10/6 to change from 48 hours to 7 days, per Governor’s order. Thanks to sharp eyes of County Clerk Paula Sollami-Covello.

BOE will start counting ballots 10 days before the election

Someone we know asked this question today: will ballots be counted right away? Or do you they have to wait until election day? The answer is they will start counting 10 days before. It’s a good thing because under the Governor’s Executive Order 177, County Clerks have to be done counting and transmit the results to the Secretary of State by November 23. That’s only 30 days to count more than 4 million votes (3.9 million people voted in the 2016 election; as of September 2020, there were 6,245,885 registered voters in New Jersey).