By ERIN ROLL
With Election Day just a few days away, Montclair voters have three options to cast the ballots they’ve received by mail.
For those seeking to hand in their ballots in person, they can do so at their assigned polling station. There are seven polling places that will be open on Nov. 3, at Buzz Aldrin, Northeast, Edgemont, Hillside and Nishuane schools, the municipal building, and the fire department headquarters. The Essex County Board of Elections website lists where residents should bring their ballots, based on districts and wards. All of the other usual polling stations in the township will be closed.
Voters can also deposit their ballots in the drop box outside of town hall or mail them in through the post office. Montclair’s drop box is monitored by a surveillance camera 24/7. Township communications officer Katya Wowk said the drop box ballots are collected once a day.
Voters who choose not to use their mailed ballot and instead want to cast their vote in person can do so at their polling station via a provisional ballot on Election Day. All individuals with disabilities will have access to an ADA-conforming voting machine. Each town in the state is required to have at least one polling place open for in-person voting.
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Polling places will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day. There will be no electronic voting machines. Instead, voters will have three options: fill in a provisional paper ballot; listen to an audio recording and make choices on a handheld device; or drop off their completed mail-in ballot.
By Oct. 27, more than 2.6 million voters in New Jersey had returned their ballots, bringing the voter turnout as of that date to 63 percent of what it had been in 2016. Montclair voters have cast 16,553 ballots, according to data from the Essex County Clerk’s Office.
Many voters have used the drop boxes out of concern about the Postal Service being impacted by federal cutbacks, or about tampering with mailboxes. Voters choosing to mail in their ballots are encouraged to do so before Nov. 3 to avoid delays.
All ballots being returned through the U.S. Postal Service must carry a postmark by Nov. 3 and be received by the county clerk no later than 8 p.m. one week later, on Tuesday, Nov. 10. Ballots that lack postmarks due to postal error but are received by 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 5, will be considered valid.
Voters will have an opportunity to “cure” ballots rejected due to signature issues.
Residents can track their ballots at nj.gov/state/elections/vote-track-my-ballot. Ballots deposited in drop boxes may take up to one week to show up as “received,” and ballots mailed may take up to two weeks to show up as “received” in the Track My Ballot tool.
A voter’s ballot status won’t be changed to “accepted” or “rejected” until after the certification of the election, on Nov. 20.
Between Sept. 1 and Oct. 1, Essex County gained 14,482 new registered voters, with the total number of registered voters standing at 562,798.
Statewide, New Jersey saw 120,301 new registered voters during that time period, bringing the state total to 6,366,186.
The last day to register was Oct. 13.