July 7 Primary Election FAQs

© 2020 by NJ 11th for Change, Inc.

for the July 7, 2020


What offices are up for election?


What is a “primary” and who can vote in it?

  • A primary election allows registered party members to vote for the candidates they want to represent their party in the November general election. 
    • Registered members of the Democratic Party vote for a Democratic nominee
    • Registered members of the Republican Party vote for a Republican nominee. 

Am I registered? What do I need to know about registration? 

  • How do I check if I’m registered? Click here.
  • What is the registration deadline? If your registration was received by Tuesday, June 16, you will be eligible to vote in the July 7 election.
  • If I missed the deadline, what should I do? Be sure to register anyway, so you can vote in the November general election. The deadline to register for the general election is Tuesday, October 13—but there is no reason not to take care of it right away! You can find the registration form for your county here.

To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, the July 7 primary election will be held mostly through VOTE BY MAIL. What does “vote by mail” mean? 

  • Vote by mail (VBM) is a well-established system that has been in use for over 150 years.
  • A vote-by-mail ballot is the same thing as an “absentee ballot” or a “mail-in ballot.” 
  • For the July 7 election, vote-by-mail ballots were sent to voters automatically, as follows:
    • Active registered Democratic voters were automatically sent ballots with Democratic candidates. 
    • Active registered Republican voters were automatically sent ballots with Republican candidates.
    • Registered voters who are unaffiliated with a party were automatically sent a ballot request application. If they wish to vote in a primary, they may declare themselves a member of one or the other party and request a ballot.
    • Inactive registered Democratic and Republican voters were also sent ballot applications.
    • Registered voters who are already affiliated with other political parties have no voting choices in this election, since no other parties are running primary candidates. The deadline for changing your registration from one party to another in time for the July 7 election has already passed.

Can I vote in person at a polling place? Can I use my usual polling place? How will it work?

  • There will be in-person polling places. However, New Jersey anticipates fewer poll workers signing up than normal, due to concerns about COVID-19 transmission. Because of this, they will be able to staff fewer in-person polling places.
  • Every municipality must operate at least one polling place. If enough poll workers are able to be secured, each county is required to operate at least 50% of their usual number of polling places. 
  • You will be notified of your polling place through a postcard mailer. The final selection of locations might not include your usual polling place. However, every voter will have at least one in-person option. As the locations are published, we will update these FAQs. (See the county-by-county information at the end of these FAQs to learn if there are online listings of your poll locations available.) 
  • Poll hours will be the same as other years: 6:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. Voters who are in line as of 8:00 p.m. will be permitted to vote.
  • Voting machines will NOT be available for most voters at the polling places. Instead, voters will fill out paper provisional ballots. Provisional ballots are real ballots, and each one will be counted once the Board of Elections confirms that no mail-in ballot has been received from the same voter. 
  • One ADA-accessible voting machine will be available at each polling place, for use only by voters with disabilities.
  • Vote-by-mail ballots cannot be turned in at your polling place.

Are polling places COVID-safe?

  • The safest way to vote is to use your vote-by-mail ballot. But if you vote in-person at a polling place, please maintain social distance and wear a mask, out of consideration for your own health and safety, the health and safety of your fellow voters, and especially the health and safety of poll workers. Poll workers will face far greater exposure than the rest of us over the course of their long workday. We appreciate the risk they are taking by performing this important civic function. 
  • If you cannot or do not wear a mask, you are still permitted to vote at a polling place.

If I receive a vote-by-mail application in the mail instead of a ballot, what do I do?

  • If you receive a vote-by-mail application form instead of a ballot in the mail, that means you are registered as unaffiliated with any political party, or that you are in the files as an "inactive" registered Democrat or Republican.
  • If you wish to receive a vote-by-mail ballot for the July 7 primary, you must fill out the application form, declare a party affiliation, and return the application. 
    • The best choice is to mail your application. It must be received by June 30; please allow for mail delays. No postage is required.
    • In some counties, you may hand-deliver your vote-by-mail application through July 6 or July 7; you will receive your ballot on the spot. See the county-by-county section at the end of this document for information about your county's policy, or call your Clerk's office. 
  • If you do not wish to apply for a vote-by-mail ballot, you may still vote using a provisional ballot at your polling place if you are a registered Democrat, registered Republican, or registered unaffiliated voter. If you are unaffiliated, you will need to declare a party affiliation at your polling place before you vote. 

How secure is Vote by Mail? 

  • VERY secure! Vote by Mail has been used by our military since the Civil War, and five states (Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Utah) conduct elections exclusively by mail.
  • These are some of the safeguards involved in the process:

    • Your ballot is prepared and mailed to you by a government official.

    • It is delivered to you by a sworn federal postal worker.

    • You fill out your ballot, place it in the certification envelope, and seal it.

    • You sign the front of the certification envelope. The signature must match the one on file at the Board of Elections; otherwise, your ballot will not be counted. (If that happens, you will be alerted so you can appeal the decision.)

    • You place the signed certification envelope inside the return envelope, and seal that.

    • You may return your ballot using the United States Postal Service to deliver the ballot to the county government; you may deliver it in person to your Board of Elections; or you may drop it in one of your county’s secure dropboxes (see photo). 
      • Dropboxes are under 24-hour video surveillance.
      • Dropboxes are bolted into concrete.
      • Each dropbox can be opened/closed only with a unique set of keys for that specific mailbox. Only the Board of Elections (not the US Postal Service) has access to those keys.
      • Employees of the Board of Elections pick up ballots from each dropbox each day. 

    • You may also have your sealed ballot hand-delivered by another person. That person must fill in the "bearer" portion on the outside of the return ballot before taking it from you, and they must sign the county's bearer book, to maintain the chain of custody. Bearers may hand-deliver no more than THREE ballots, including their own, during any one election.

    • Every ballot has a unique barcode that is scanned once it is received.

    • Vote by Mail ballots will be opened at a pre-announced location.

    • The ballot-opening process will be video streamed to a public viewing room, where people can challenge any ballots they feel to be invalid.

    • The four members of the Board of Election — which consists of two Republicans and two Democrats — make decisions on challenges. 

    • Your signature, displayed on the certification envelope containing the ballot, is verified to match the signature from your on-file voter registration — just as it would be at your polling place.

    • If the signature matches, and there is no challenge from the public, then the certification flap is torn off (so your voting choices remain anonymous) and the envelope containing your ballot remains sealed, ready for opening on Election Day to be counted.

    • A signature appeals process is being developed for the July 7 election; read more here.

I am a registered Democrat or Republican. When will I receive my ballot in the mail?

  • Ballots have already been sent. If you have not yet received a ballot, please contact your County Clerk. (Contact information included at the end of these FAQs.)

What should I do if I have not received a ballot, if my ballot has been lost or destroyed, or if I made a mistake while marking it?

  • All ballots SHOULD HAVE BEEN RECEIVED by now. If you have not received yours, please take steps to get one right away.
  • You may send in a Second Ballot Request form by mail, fax, or email. 
    • Visit your County Clerk’s website and download a Second Ballot Request Form. (Websites and contact information included at the end of these FAQs.)
    • Print it and fill it out. If you do not have access to a printer, call your County Clerk for guidance.
    • Return the request to the County Clerk’s office by mail, by fax (call office for number), or by emailing a scan or photo of the filled-out form (call office for specific email address).
    • Second Ballot Request forms must be received at the Clerk’s office by June 30. 
    • A replacement ballot will be sent to you by priority mail. 
  • In some counties, you may hand-deliver your vote-by-mail application through July 6 or July 7; you will receive your ballot on the spot.
    • See the county-by-county section at the end of this document for information about your county's policy, or call your Clerk's office. 
  • If you do not receive a ballot in time, you may vote in person at your polling place using a provisional ballot. 

What do I do when I receive my ballot in the mail? 

  • Fill out your ballot and seal it according to the instructions printed on it, using blue or black ink. Watch this video tutorial from Essex County Clerk Chris Durkin or this video from Passaic County Freeholder John Bartlett for a thorough demonstration.
  • Be sure to sign your ballot the way you usually sign the check-in book at your polling place.
  • Make note of the “ID” number above the barcode on the back of the return envelope. This is your unique Voter ID number, and you can use it later to confirm here that your ballot has been received.
  • Return your ballot.

Do all vote-by-mail ballots get counted? 

  • Ballots that are properly cast are counted. Reasons ballots may be rejected include: 
    • Neglecting to sign the Certification
    • Signing the Certification in a way that does not match the voter-ID signature on file (click here to read about the signature-rejection appeals process that is being developed).
    • Tampering with the Certificate of Election. If you mistakenly detach the certificate, do not attempt to tape it back on. If your certificate is detached or damaged, request a new ballot by contacting your county clerk.
  • For a behind-the-scenes look at what happens in the ballot-approval process, click here.

How and when do I return my ballot? 

  • There’s no reason to wait! You may return your ballot as soon as you receive it and fill it out. 
    • You may mail your ballot back via the United States Post Office. 
      • No postage is needed.
      • Mailed ballots must be postmarked no later than July 7, Election Day. 
      • They must be received within 7 days of Election Day. 
      • We anticipate COVID-related delays in mail service, so we advise mailing your ballot well in advance of the July 7 postmark date to be sure it is received in time.
    • You may return your ballot in person at your County Board of Elections. 
      • Hand-delivered ballots must be dropped off by July 7 (Election Day), 8:00 p.m., if your BOE office is open to the public. Please check your BOE website for updates on this. (See end of this document for web addresses.)  Sussex County voters, please call 973-579-0900 for updated information on early voting in person at the Clerk’s Office.
      • You must bring ID to return your ballot in-person. Contact your county’s Board of Elections for information about what kinds of ID are acceptable. (See end of this document for Board of Elections contact information.)
      • Due to COVID-19 staffing concerns, please check the office’s daily hours by phone before visiting. Extended and weekend hours might be offered. (See the end of this document for phone numbers and addresses.)
    • You may place your ballot in a secure election dropbox.
      • Each county will have at least FIVE dropboxes, located in different municipalities. (See the end of this document for location information.) 
      • Ballots must be dropped off by July 7 (Election Day), 8:00 p.m. 
      • Please note: Dropboxes are being distributed to each county starting on Wednesday, June 17, and will take time to install. Contact your county clerk or county Board of Elections to find out if the dropboxes are ready. (See end of this document for phone numbers.)
      • All dropboxes are outdoors and under surveillance 24/7, bolted into the concrete pavement.
      • Dropboxes look like a USPS blue mailbox, but are red, white and blue and are marked “Official Ballot Drop Box.”
      • Ballots will be picked up each day and delivered to the Board of Elections, following proper security protocols. 

Can I submit my vote-by-mail ballot at my polling place on Election Day? 

  • No. Vote-by-mail ballots will not be accepted at the polling locations.
  • If you bring a vote-by-mail ballot to your polling place, you will have to do one of the following: 
    • find a USPS location to mail your vote-by-mail ballot, if it can still be postmarked in time
    • hand-deliver your vote-by-mail ballot to the Board of Elections, if you can get there by 8:00 p.m. 
    • fill out a provisional ballot at the polling place, and destroy your vote-by-mail ballot. 

Do I need to stamp the envelope to mail in my ballot? 

  • No! The postage for your ballot is pre-paid.

Can I bring ballots to the Board of Elections to turn in for friends or family members?

  • A person serving as a “bearer” may bring in ballots for no more than THREE people (including his or her own ballot) in any given election.
  • No one running as a candidate in that election may serve as a bearer.
  • A bearer must bring a driver’s license or other acceptable form of identification. Contact your Board of Elections for details about acceptable forms of identification.
  • Before the ballot is taken from the voter, the bearer must fill out and sign the Bearer Section on the left-front side of the return envelope. It is not permitted to fill out this section while at the Board of Elections.

What if I have a disability that makes it difficult for me to vote by mail or vote on a paper provisional ballot at my polling place?

  • If you have a disability and need an ADA-accessible ballot, please contact your County Clerk. (See contact information at the end of this document.)
  • You may also go to your assigned polling place, where you can use an in-person, ADA-accessible voting device on Primary Election Day.

How do I know if my ballot was received?

  • You may track your ballot’s arrival online here. To do so, you will need to know your Voter ID number, which is located above the barcode on the back of the ballot return envelope. Be sure to make note of that number before returning your ballot, if you’d like to track it!
  • If you do not have your Voter ID number, you may contact your county’s Board of Elections to find out if your ballot has been received. 
  • Please allow a week after submitting your ballot to inquire.

Will I be notified if my vote-by-mail ballot is rejected? Can I appeal the decision?

  • YES, you will be notified. The Board of Elections will notify you following the election with the reason your ballot was not counted.
  • An appeals process is being worked out for voters whose ballots are rejected because their signatures are judged not to match. You can read more about it here. This FAQ will be updated as the process is resolved.

When will we know the results of the July 7, 2020 primary election?

  • Due to the challenges of this election and the time allotted for the Boards of Election to receive ballots, election results will not be certified until July 14 at the earliest, and may not be available until the end of July. Accuracy will take priority over speed.

Does voting by mail in this election mean I will automatically be signed up to vote by mail in future elections?

  • No! When polling places are re-opened for future post-COVID elections, you will revert to your regular voting method, whether that was vote-by-mail or in-person.





  • Essex County Ballot Dropbox Locations
    • East Orange — City Hall, 44 City Hall Plaza
    • Montclair — Town Hall, 205 Claremont Avenue
    • Newark — City Hall, 920 Broad Street (outside Green Street Entrance) 
    • West Caldwell — Municipal Building, 30 Clinton Road 
    • West Orange — South Mountain Recreation Complex Park and Ride, 560 Northfield Avenue
  • Essex County Polling Places
    • You will be receiving a postcard in the mail with information about where you can vote in person.
    • Some municipalities have multiple polling places, and others do not. This is based on population size and other factors.
    • If your postcard lists more than one polling place, you may cast your vote at ANY of them. Choose whichever is most convenient to you on Election Day.
    • Please note that some municipalities have more than one voting ward, so different postcards will be sent to different parts of town. For example, West Orange has one postcard (with one set of polling places) going to voters who live in the 10th Congressional District, and a different postcard (with a different set of polling places) going to voters who live in the 11th Congressional district. Montclair has two different postcards going out; Newark and Bloomfield each has four.
    • Depending on your voting ward, the heading above the polling-place list may include (from left to right):
      • the ballot number (there are 30 different ballot versions being used in Essex County, because of different Congressional districts and municipal elections. You can find your ballot number in the top right corner of your vote-by-mail ballot, before the name of your town.)
      • the municipality / town name
      • the ward (W) number
      • the Congressional District (CD) number
      • the Freeholder District (FD) number
    • This link includes ALL of the Essex County polling-places. They are shown by municipality, with towns listed in alphabetical order. Again, some municipalities have more than one postcard, so be sure to scroll to confirm you've found the correct one for your voting ward.


  • Morris County Clerk’s Office
    From the Morris County Clerk's FAQ page: In-person VBM applications will be accepted by the County Clerk's Election Office until 8:00 p.m. on July 7, 2020.
    • Tel: (973) 285-6120 (main office) or (973) 285-6066 (Laura Roberts, Elections)
    • Mailing Address: Morris County Clerk, PO Box 315, Morristown, NJ 07963-0315
    • Office Address: Administration and Records Building, 1st Floor, 10 Court Street, Morristown, NJ 07960
    • Voter FAQ page:
    • Sample ballots: n/a
    • Email: [email protected]
    • Website: https://morriscountyclerk.org/ 

  • Morris County Board of Elections
  • Morris County Ballot Dropbox Locations
    • Morristown — Morris County Administration & Records Building, 10 Court Street (outside front entrance)
    • Budd Lake — Mount Olive Municipal Building, 204 Flanders/Drakestown Road (at parking lot entrance to municipal offices)
    • Rockaway — Rockaway Twp. Municipal Building, 65 Mount Hope Road (outside police department)
    • Montville — Montville Municipal Building, 195 Changebridge Road (in front of municipal building)
    • Madison — Madison Municipal Building, Hartley Dodge Memorial Building, 50 Kings Road (behind police headquarters)

  • Morris County Polling Places


  • Passaic County Ballot Dropbox Locations
    • Clifton — City of Clifton Municipal Complex
    • Passaic — City of Passaic Municipal Complex
    • Paterson — County of Passaic Administration Building
    • Ringwood — Borough of Ringwood Municipal Complex
    • Wayne — Township of Wayne Municipal Complex
  • Passaic County Polling Places
    • Not yet published online. Voters should have received a postcard specifying their polling location. If you have not, please contact the Passaic County Clerk or Board of Elections.


  • Sussex County Clerk’s Office
    From the Sussex County Clerk's Facebook page: County Clerk Jeff Parrott announced that his office will be open extended hours on Saturday, July 4th from 9 a.m. to noon to accommodate in-person voting. Deadline for a walk-in to obtain a vote-by-mail ballot from the County Clerk: July 7.



Thanks to
Essex County Clerk
for his generous assistance
resolving these questions!



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