Summary of Executive Order No. 177: NJ General Election 2020

© 2020 by NJ 11th for Change, Inc.


August 14, 2020


At a press conference this afternoon, Governor Phil Murphy announced Executive Order No. 177, outlining how voting will be handled in New Jersey for the November 3 general election.

The election will be conducted primarily through Vote by Mail, much like the primary election in July.

Of course there are more elements to the plan than we can cover here, but we are sharing some points from his presentation and from Executive Order No. 177 that we believe will be of interest to our members.

The goal of this election plan is to protect the health and safety of the people of New Jersey, while also ensuring our right to vote in a free and fair election: “Safe for you. Secure for Democracy.”

PLEASE NOTE that changing circumstances may require alterations to this plan. NJ 11th for Change will do the best we can to notify members quickly as we become aware of new developments. For the most recent developments and the most thorough answers, visit our FAQ page, which we will continue to update as the election season progresses. 



The November 3 general election will be similar to the July 3 primary election, with some important differences.

(We've called out two of the most exciting differences as ***NEW***)



  • This election will be conducted primarily through Vote by Mail (VBM). Voters will have a variety of ways to cast their votes, outlined below. 
  • EVERY active registered voter will be mailed a paper ballot, regardless of party affiliation.
  • Voters are urged to visit “Am I Registered” to make sure their registrations are active and updated.
  • ***NEW!*** Starting on September 4, voters will be able to register online!
  • Formerly incarcerated people on parole or probation are allowed to register and vote.
  • The voter registration deadline is October 13 for voters to be eligible to participate in the November 3 election.
  • All County Clerks must send ballots out to voters by the same deadline: October 5. 
  • If you do not receive your ballot during the second week of October, contact your county clerk right away!
  • Sample ballots will not be mailed. However, information about where to find sample ballots (online and elsewhere) will be included in a mailing to be sent no later than October 23.
  • On Labor Day, the state will launch a comprehensive education campaign about election processes.
  • If you need help understanding your ballot or are having trouble participating in this election, don’t hesitate to contact your County Clerk or your county’s Board of Elections.
  • If you see a problem, you can call the Voter Protection Hotline at 1-877-NJ-VOTER.


  • Ballot postage will be prepaid. You will not have to put a stamp on your ballot to return it by mail.
  • Ballots sent by mail and postmarked on or before 8 p.m. on Election Day (November 3) will be counted as long as they arrive at the Board of Elections within 7 days of the election (November 10).
  • In the previous election, USPS machinery problems meant that some ballots arrived without a postmark. Those that arrived after Election Day could not be counted, since there was no way to establish that they had been put in the mail on time. For the November election, any ballots arriving without a postmark will be counted as long as they are received within 48 hours of poll-closing — by 8 p.m. on November 5.



  • Voters may return their ballots through election dropboxes, which will be installed at secure locations in each county. To the extent possible, there will be at least 10 dropboxes in each county.
  • County Boards of Election will decide where dropboxes are to be installed. They are instructed to place them, to the best of their abilities, based on geographic location and population density to best serve the voters of their counties. 
  • Locations of dropboxes will be included in the informational mailings that must be sent no later than October 23. 


  • ***NEW!*** Vote-by-Mail ballots can be dropped off at your polling place on Election Day!
  • You must use your specific designated polling place, as communicated in the informational mailing that will be sent no later than October 23.
  • A VBM ballot dropped off at a polling place MUST be delivered by that voter. It may not be dropped off by another person (a “bearer”). Standards will be set to ensure that the voter submitting the ballot is the individual who voted that ballot. 



  • Voters who wish to vote in person on Election Day may do so, using provisional paper ballots at their designated municipal polling places. 
  • Voters with disabilities may use the ADA-compliant voting machine available at each polling place. 
  • It is unlikely that there will be early in-person voting for this election. The governor is a proponent of early voting, but proposals are currently held up in the legislative process.



  • Voters will be notified of their polling place in an informational mailing that will be sent no later than October 23. 
  • Every municipality must have at least 1 polling place. Every county must have at least 50% of its usual number of polling places. 
  • Given the 81-day lead-time, securing enough locations is a more achievable goal than it was for the more rushed July primary election. Should securing enough separate locations prove impossible, large polling centers that accommodate multiple polling districts may be used. 
  • All public schools will be closed for in-person instruction on Election Day (November 3) to facilitate safe voting at school sites.
  • The state is seeking young, healthy people interested in employment as poll workers for this election. Please visit for more information.



  • Sign up with the SVRS system so you can track your ballot after you’ve returned it. (You will need your voter ID# from your ballot envelope to do this)
  • This state’s online system should be your first choice for tracking your ballot, rather than calling your County Clerk or Board of Elections (both of which will be under a lot of stress during the hectic weeks pre- and post-election).
  • Setting up an account with your voter ID number (found on your VBM ballot return envelope) is the easiest way to sign in; you may also use your SSN or driver’s license. 



  • There will NOT be early vote-counting.
  • Federal stimulus funds earmarked for election support will be used to purchase extra-high-volume ballot scanners for counties that don’t already have them, so that slow, antiquated machines do not delay the reporting of results.
  • If a ballot is rejected because of a missing signature, or because the signature did not match the signature in the registration file, voters will be notified of the problem and given an opportunity to “cure” their ballots. Details of the process are still being refined. We will update this as information becomes available.
  • Election results MUST be certified by November 20—two full weeks after election day, and one full week after the final deadline for mailed ballots to arrive.