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Bergen County Board of Elections Says the County is Ready for the November Elections

the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Hackensack NJ, From Bergen County Board of Elections Chair, Jamie Sheehan-Willis:
I’ve seen so much misinformation on social media about Mail In Ballots, Provisional Ballots and the November Election. I wanted to clear some things up. I’m not interested in arguing about whether the Governor’s actions were right or wrong (if you know me, you know where I stand). I have a job to do as the Chairwoman of the Bergen County Board of Elections, so I must follow the Governor’s orders.
Bergen County certified the July 7th Primary on time, July 24th. While this might not seem like a big deal, it is. We received more ballots than any other county in the state – close to 150,000 MIB and Provisionals. Our previous record was 70,000 in 2018 (think Sheriff’s race/second ballot sent to MIB voters). Bergen was held up as a model to the other counties in the state. Seven out of 21 counties – a third of the state!! – could NOT certify on time. ALL with much smaller numbers than Bergen.

Mail In Ballots (MIBs)
• Always canvassed and added to the results.
• Every signature is checked on every ballot received (signature is on the Certificate of Voter flap on the inner envelope). Those with mismatched or missing signatures now get a chance to “cure” their ballot. NEVER sign or initial the actual ballot!!
• Less than 5% of mail in ballots were rejected In Bergen for the Primary Election. The main reasons ballots are rejected? 1) They arrive late! Don’t wait to return your ballot if you know who you’re voting for. 2) NO BALLOT! Yes, voters return envelopes with NO BALLOT. We can’t count what’s not there. 3) someone other than the voter completes the ballot, 4) NO Certificate of Voter enclosed.
• MIBs can arrive as late at 11/10, but MUST have a readable postmark of 11/3 or earlier.
• Ballots that arrive by 11/5 with NO postmark will be canvassed. However, if they arrive on 11/5 and have a postmark of 11/4, it will not be counted.
• It doesn’t matter the color ink you use to complete your ballot – black, blue, pencil, red, etc. The machine reads it all. But FULLY darken in the oval. The machine may not pick up a thin line through the oval.
• You will be able to deliver your MIB (and ONLY YOUR MIB) to poll workers at the polling place on Election day.
Provisional Ballots
• Always canvassed and added to the results.
• Provisionals are counted later because we must finish counting all the MIBs.
• Signatures are checked.
• Records are checked to see if the voter cast a vote on the machine or by MIB.
• Top reasons by Provisional ballots are rejected – the voter is NOT REGISTERED TO VOTE IN BERGEN or we received a MIB (we don’t want people voting twice. Silly us!!). Also, NO BALLOT in the envelope. In a Primary only, voted wrong party.
• If you go to a polling place on 11/3, you will be given a Provisional ballot unless you are physically unable to fill out a paper ballot.
Ballot Drop Boxes
• Bergen currently has 6 ballot drop boxes. We will have at least 10 per the governor’s order. The locations of the drop boxes can be found at this link. It will be updated with the new locations once we have determined them. https://www.co.bergen.nj.us/berge…/ballot-drop-box-locations
• Ballot drop boxes are emptied on a daily basis by 2 staff members (1 Republican; 1 Democrat) who are escorted by a Bergen County Sheriff’s officer. They will be emptied more in the days leading up to November 3rd.
• Ballots are brought directly to the Board of Elections for immediate processing.
• Boxes can hold 1500 ballots each.
• Unfortunately, we cannot put a drop box in each town. We have 70 towns in Bergen and they cost $5000 each. The state paid for the first 5; the county paid for 1. I’m hoping the state will be paying for the additional ones we have to purchase. Plus, we don’t have the staff to empty them every day.
Tallying the Ballots
• MIBs and Provisionals are tallied the same way. Bergen County owns 3 DS850s manufactured by ES&S. https://www.essvote.com/products/ds850/
• While it’s not difficult work, it takes time and people to physically remove the ballots from the envelopes. There’s no machine to do that.
• The Board cannot start counting ballots early per NJ law.
I’ll answer any legitimate question you have about the process. My answers are specific to Bergen County, but may apply to other counties in NJ. Every county does things slightly different and uses different equipment.

3 thoughts on “Bergen County Board of Elections Says the County is Ready for the November Elections

  1. The link for “locations of the drop boxes” does NOT WORK in firefox and IE

  2. When will we know the official results of all elections and voting items such as legal potheads driving cars?

  3. @John albert Wake up, already been happening for decades

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