Mail-in voting: What you need to know
I recently got a mailer from the post office telling me to request a mail-in ballot 15 days prior to the election. I thought I was getting one automatically. Do I need to request one? If so, how?
The mailer from the U.S. Postal Service went out nationwide, and for many viewers here, it does not apply. Here is the information you need, broken down by state.
New Jersey: There is no need to apply for a mail-in ballot in New Jersey. Because of the pandemic, mail-in ballots should be automatically mailed to every registered voter. However, if you do not receive one, you can apply to your county clerk by mail by Oct. 27 or apply in person until 3 p.m. on the day before Election Day. You can download applications for mail-in ballots HERE.
New York: You must apply for an absentee ballot in New York. However, because of the pandemic, the state is adopting a “no excuses” policy, by which applications will automatically be granted. You do not need to have a “valid” reason. You can apply by mail, email or fax to your local county board of elections by Oct. 27. You can also apply in-person up to the day before the election. You can download applications HERE.
Connecticut: There is no need to apply for a mail-in ballot in Connecticut. Because of the pandemic, absentee ballot applications should be mailed to every active, registered voter, prepopulated with the voter’s personal information and containing a unique barcode, so only that voter is able to use it. If you do not receive an application, you can download one HERE or get one at your town clerk’s office.
How do I make sure my ballot is not rejected?
Each year, about 1% of mail-in ballots are rejected. The mail reason is that they are unsigned, so don’t forget to sign your name. The second most common problem is signatures not matching those on file, so sign neatly, and if your signature has changed over the years, consider that. Another common problem is ballots returned after the deadline, so return your ballot early. More about deadlines below.
How do I submit my mail in ballot?
New Jersey: Ballots must be postmarked by Election Day and received by seven days after the election by 8 p.m. You an also drop it in one of several secure boxes to be set up across the state or bring your ballot to a polling location on Election Day.
New York: You can mail your ballot early enough to be postmarked by Nov. 3, bring it to an early-voting site between Oct. 24 and Nov. 1, or bring it to a polling site or to your county board of elections by 9pm on November 3rd.
Connecticut: Ballots can be sent by mail, dropped off at your town clerk’s office, or at the secure drop box that the Office of the Secretary of the State has provided to each town, which will generally be located outside of the town hall. Whatever method you choose. All ballots must be received by the close of polls at 8 p.m. on Election Day.
Note: The U.S. Postal Service says it will not guarantee ballots will be received on time unless mailed 15 days prior to the deadline.
Can I verify if my mail in ballot was received?
New Jersey: New Jersey allows you to follow the status of your mail in ballot if you set up a Voter Registration System account HERE.
New York: If you are military or overseas voter, you can track the status of your absentee ballot HERE.
Connecticut: Voters who mailed back their absentee ballots can check to see if they were received by going HERE. However, the website is managed by the state and absentee info will only show up if local town clerks enter it.
Can I vote in person on election day?
New Jersey: Yes, you can vote in person by provisional ballot. If you voted by mail already, the mail-in ballot will count and the provisional ballot will be discarded.
New York: Yes, you can vote in person. If you cast an absentee ballot and then vote in person, the absentee ballot will be discarded.
Connecticut: Yes, polling places will remain open for those who wish to vote in person.