WITH THE 2020 General Election just days away, Ocean County voters who need assistance with vote-by-mail ballots can access help through the Ocean County Clerk Election Services staff in the days leading up to and including Nov. 3.
On Saturday, Oct. 31 and Sunday, Nov. 1, voters can obtain a replacement vote- by-mail ballot by completing an affidavit, vote the ballot in a privacy booth and deposit the ballot in a secure drop box all in-person at the Ocean County Southern Service Center, 179 South Main St., Manahawkin. The Ocean County Clerk's Election Services Staff will be available from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 to assist with the ballots.
"The County Clerk staff will be available at the Ocean County Southern Service Center in Stafford Township to assist registered voters who may need to obtain a vote-by-mail ballot, whether because they did not receive one, they lost their ballot, made a mistake on the ballot, tore, defaced it or incorrectly marked the ballot," said Ocean County Freeholder Gary Quinn, liaison to the Ocean County Clerk.
The Clerk's Office at the Southern Service Center will also be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Nov. 2 and from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., Election Day, Nov. 3 to assist with vote-by-mail ballots.
"The second location will provide convenient access to assistance for our voters in the southern part of the County," Quinn said. "Since the 2020 General Election is primarily vote-by-mail due to changes in state law, we have been addressing a number of issues and concerns raised by our voters. Having staff available gives them an opportunity to correct problems with their ballot and assures them their vote will be counted."
Registered voters from the following towns can get vote-by-mail ballot assistance at the Southern Service Center: Barnegat Light, Barnegat Township, Beach Haven, Eagleswood Township, Harvey Cedars, Lacey Township, Little Egg Harbor Township, Long Beach Township, Ocean Township, Ship Bottom, Stafford Township, Surf City and Tuckerton.
The Ocean County Clerk Election Services staff has been providing in-person help in Mancini Hall at the Ocean County Library at 101 Washington St., Toms River.
The hours for vote-by-mail ballot help will be extended to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., in Mancini Hall starting Tuesday, Oct. 27 through Friday, Oct. 30. In addition, there will be Saturday and Sunday hours from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on both Oct. 31 and Nov. 1. And from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., on Monday, Nov. 2 and 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 3. Election Day, all in Mancini Hall at the main branch of the Ocean County Library. Voters can also call 732-929-2018 for information.
Ocean County Board of Election staff will be joining the County Clerk staff in Mancini Hall on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 to help voters.
Ocean County election officials are urging voters to fill out their ballots and return them as soon as possible.
"Do not delay returning your ballot to the Ocean County Board of Elections," advised Ocean County Freeholder Virginia E. Haines, who serves as liaison to the Board of Elections.
She noted that Ocean County voters have several options for returning the vote-by-mail ballot.
Completed ballots can be dropped into any one of 17 secure drop boxes that have been set up in safe locations throughout the county. A complete list is available on the Ocean County webpage at www.co.ocean.nj.us.
The majority of the locations for the secure drop boxes are outside branches of the Ocean County Library and other public buildings. The deadline for placing your ballot in one of the secure drop boxes is 8 p.m., Nov. 3.
"The drop box locations are under 24-hour security surveillance monitored by the County," Haines said. "We are encouraging voters to not wait until Election Day to drop off their ballot at a polling place.
"Returning your completed ballot now will help make sure your vote is counted on Election Day," she said.
Voters can also mail in their ballots using the prepaid envelope, or drop it off at the Ocean County Board of Elections Office, 129 Hooper Ave., Toms River.
While there will be a limited number of polling places open on Election Day, only people with disabilities will be able to access and vote on a voting machine at an assigned polling location. Anyone else going to the polls can either drop off the vote-by-mail ballot or will have to vote a paper provisional ballot which will not be counted until after Nov. 10 when all the vote-by-mail ballots have been counted.
Because the vote-by-mail has resulted in many questions from citizens, there is a list of frequently asked questions in the updates box on the Ocean County website at www.co.ocean.nj.us. to help provide answers to some of the questions.
Voters seeking additional information are also encouraged to visit the Ocean County Clerk website at www.oceancountyclerk.com and click on the View Nov. 3 General Election Information link or visit the Clerk's Facebook page at facebook.com/oceancountyclerk. There are instructional videos and important links for specific election information all of which can be accessed 7 days a week, 24-hours a day.
The Ocean County Board of Elections can be reached by calling (732) 929-2167.