I’m a poll worker here in West Milford. That means, I’m required to arrive at my assigned polling place at 5:15 a.m. to put on my mask, gloves and face shield ... and keep them on ... for the next 15 hours minimum, while we set up the location and prepare for voters.
In 2016 none of us were able to take the one-hour lunch break we were allowed, or any break; it was just that crowded and incessant.
This time, we will likely again be forced to continually process voters, if people insist on ignoring the mail-in ballot they’ve received and decide to show up and demand to vote in person.
If you decide to toss your mail-in ballot and instead go to your polling place, you will face a line: People who want to vote in person cannot vote on a machine unless they are so disabled they can’t fill out a paper ballot.
Therefore, in-person voters must fill out a provisional ballot, which is the same as your mail-in ballot, but with an enclosing envelope that requires even more information.
The process is longer than sitting at home and filling out your ballot: One worker must verify you’re a voter at that district, then the next worker will give you a provisional ballot and envelope, and then you’ll wait until a physically distanced seat opens up at a table so you can fill out your ballot and enclosing envelope.
If you’ve filled out your mail-in ballot and sent it in, you can track it online. The bottom of the letter from the Passaic County Clerk (that came with your ballot) has clear instructions how to do so.
Here again is the number: 877-NJ-VOTER.
The web site to register to track is: https://voter.svrs.nj.gov/auth/sign-in.
If you’ve filled out your mail-in ballot and sent it in, and still come to vote in-person, you’ll be forced to sit and fill out a provisional ballot, which will be rejected when votes are processed and the duplication is revealed.
If you think you should because you’re not sure whether you’ve mailed your ballot, please check your ballot status online first, and save yourself some time and trouble.
If you’re voting in person because you don’t trust “the system,” please know that provisional and mail-in ballots go through the same system. You’re just unfairly burdening the poll workers at the site and others on the waiting line.
We’ve learned some things since this year’s primary. This time, you’ll be able to use the drop box right outside town hall until 8 p.m. on Nov. 3rd.
Or you can hand your sealed mail-in ballot to one of the poll workers at the site.
Or you can return it at your post office or have it picked up by your mail carrier, postage-free.
Also: We do not like to temporarily turn away voters wearing candidate T-shirts or hats within 100 feet of the outside entrance, but we will, and will ask you to come back without them. See NJSA 19:34-15.
I hope everyone takes advantage of the convenience and tracking ability of your mail-in ballot. Please; it’s a long, grueling day for the poll workers and town officials. I hope everyone will understand how voting early with your traceable mail-in ballot helps you, helps me, and helps the system.