County workers are stuffing envelopes with mail-in ballots, and they’re stuffing a lot of envelopes. Thanks to a new state law, every voter who got a mail-in ballot in 2016 will automatically get one this year, unless they opt out in writing. So where Monmouth County expected to send out up to 20,000 mail-in ballots, it will now have to send out more than 30,000. “That part of the law, that new change, has been difficult to implement in such a short time period because vote by mail ballots start going out Sept. 22. It’s not like we have until November to implement a law that was enacted in August. We basically had a month,” said Monmouth County Clerk Christine Giordano Hanlon. Gov. Phil Murphy signed the law in August, arguing that expanding mail-in voting, or what used to be known as an absentee ballot, would expand voter participation. County clerks, however, say they had just weeks to comply with the law, without additional resources to do so.
According to federal data, more than 400,000 mail-in ballots were sent to New Jersey voters for the 2016 election. The counties sent out letters to those voters telling them they had to opt out of receiving a mail-in ballot if they didn’t want one.
If they don’t and just show up on Election Day, they won’t be able to use the voting machines and instead will be given provisional ballots. And that often doesn’t go over well.
“This is something that we are concerned about. We are providing additional provisional ballots so that we have enough for those people who receive a vote by mail ballot and did not vote the vote by mail ballot,” said Giordano Hanlon.