OPINION: Voting Process, Timing of Results Need to Be Better in November

The vote-by-mail primary held July 7 in New Jersey increased the number of people who voted. 

But the process was far from a success.

Confusion reigned at polling places. Ballots were never mailed to residents. Mail trucks went up in flames and destroyed mailed votes. Stolen ballots and voter fraud resulted in indictments. 

These are just some of the issues the Garden State confronted in the first two vote-by-mail elections held in May and July. But maybe most distressing is the extended time it is taking to count ballots. 

To review how vote-by-mail was run for the primary, each registered Republican and Democrat received a postage-prepaid mail-in ballot, while unaffiliated voters received a vote-by-mail application. Additionally, voters had the option to cast their vote at a reduced number of in-person polling places.

After the election, Gov. Phil Murphy stated “the process feels like it worked,” indicating the state will move forward to offer vote-by-mail to each of the state’s nearly 6.2 million registered voters in November. 

While awaiting the results of an after-action review by the Murphy Administration, issues in recent days should give pause to state officials when deciding on how to move forward.

First, the New Jersey Attorney General asked a judge to give at least seven counties an extension to count votes from the primary election. These counties still have huge numbers of provisional ballots to count, including more than 17,000 in Monmouth and 14,000 in Middlesex, while in Bergen County, 385 of 754 cure letters mailed had been returned as of July 22.

Even more alarming is the U.S. Postal Office stance that it can not guarantee a specific delivery date or is willing to alter standards to comply with individual state election laws. Officials stated their is a “high probability” some ballots would not be delivered prior to the Nov. 3 election. 

Finally, Hudson County’s election board found breaking down ballots, which could only legally start on election day, was incredibly time-consuming due to the large volume. As a result, the results were not known the day of the election. 

If not addressed, this is a recipe for chaos in November. The state and the country need an election that has clear results on Nov. 3 after all ballots are received.  

President Donald Trump has started to sow the seeds to dispute the election if he loses, unwilling to commit to accepting the results of the election Nov. 3. Trump has raised the issues of voter fraud on a regular basis, casting doubt specifically on vote-by-mail elections. 

The President has cited the Paterson city elections in May in numerous tweets and speeches in his case that vote-by-mail allows for greater election fraud. We will note two items here—while he decries vote-by-mail, he plans to cast an absentee ballot in Florida this year delivered by mail and that study after study has shown vote-by-mail is a secure process.

In New Jersey, Murphy and state officials need to address the issues raised and need to expediently. Hearings by both the Senate and Assembly need to be held. There must be a detailed look at the issues in the May and July elections and provide a plan on how they are going to be corrected. Start by listening to local election officials and allow them to begin opening ballots on a rolling basis as they arrive.

Voting and having confidence in the results will be both a local and national issue come November. Now is the time for New Jersey to settle these issues so come this fall, voters have confidence their ballots will be counted in a timely manner if they are cast at a mailbox or a polling station.

6 comments

  1. I worked for the Postal System for 27 years , never were we allowed to curtail 1st Class Mail . As I understand it now with a New Post Master General hired by Trump , curtailing 1st Class Mail is okay. Trump has hired a man to help sabotage the Postal Service . Instead of calling upon Congress , who essentially controls how the system operates , to find ways to make their service viable or even more profitable , he instead denigrates the service and it’s hard working people . Voting by mail has gone on for a very long time , the president and vice president have taken advantage of voting by mail. I guess when that happened there was “NO MAIL FRAUD INVOLVED”, Huh? The erstwhile president claimed there was election fraud and spent needless tax payer money to hire an committee to investigate , came up with such a tiny amount as to be laughable. People who are disabled , should not have to jump through hoops in order to vote . Voting by mail makes voting more viable , especially for the elderly It is vile that a president would gladly destroy the lives of 600,000 thousand working Americans , who perform such a good service for the American people . Trump wanted to keep alive the Coal Mining industry , thought “IT” was important to America . Well the Postal Service gives far and above good service to the families and small businesses of America , far better than our “Sitting President ” and republicans”

    1. Yes, another American value destroyed by Trump: “The mail must go through.” Our saddest, sickest most un-American president must be voted into oblivion on November 3rd; the mail must indeed go through!

  2. My daughter moved from NJ 2 presidential election cycles ago. She is a resident of Colorado and votes there. Every time we go to the voting booth her name is still there to vote in NJ. We also get her mail in ballot/voting sample for every election. I could actually cast my vote twice but never do. Mail in ballots should be abolished.
    President Trump applied to vote absentee and was sent the ballot. It did not come automatically from Florida.

  3. “Confusion reigned at polling places. Ballots were never mailed to residents. Mail trucks went up in flames and destroyed mailed votes. Stolen ballots and voter fraud resulted in indictments.” Sounds like fact news. Prove it. What are the examples and where. Should have endnotes directing readers to investigate the allegations in the opinion.

  4. I had no problem voting in July. It was easy. I dropped my vote off at the headquarters in Blackwood. Everthing was handled in a professional manner. I received a post card after the primary election stating that I had cast my vote.

  5. Sadly, the Trump administration is doing everything it can to undermine the postal service. Our elected officials must engage all congresspeople from both parties to make sure this doesn’t happen. Our postal carrier tells us our local post office is a disaster, and from experience I have to agree .Luckly,her responsible attitude is unusual and refreshing, but we can tell what days she is off.

    Vote-by-mail – actually, any voting – will work honestly only if people want it to and take responsibility for citizenship. Oart of that is accepting the results of fair elections. There is enough damage trying to be done by foreign interference and other bad actors, including domestically; cleaning up vote-by-mail problems s absolutely essential.

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