New Jersey’s vote-by-mail turnout might beat all of 2016
More than 3.8 million New Jerseyans had voted early, as of this evening’s update from the state Division of Elections. That amounts to 63% of all 6 million active voters who had been sent a ballot through the mail.
The number of early votes amounted to 96% of all ballots cast in the 2016 presidential election. Ten of the 21 counties exceeded their turnout from four years ago even before a person stepped foot today in a polling place.
New Jersey was still accepting mailed ballots postmarked today if received by Nov. 10. Voters could also drop-off mail-in ballots today at dropboxes and polling places today.
The biggest increases have been in Monmouth and Ocean counties. More than 70 percent of all of Ocean County's, Sussex County's, Monmouth County's, Hunterdon County's and Cape May County's ballots had been returned.
The total number of registered voters, including those who are considered inactive but haven’t yet been erased from the voter rolls, is approaching 6.5 million. Turnout among that group approached 59% before the polls even opened.
There are 677,000 more people registered to vote in New Jersey now than in 2016, a jump of 12%.
Voters also had the option of voting in person at a limited number of polling places, by filling out paper provisional ballots that won't be counted until Nov. 10.
"We were trying to avoid a heavy turnout on Election Day because that would make the counting process very difficult. Everything we worked for, everything we hoped for is bearing true," Monmouth County Clerk Christine Hanlon told New Jersey 101.5.
League of Women Voters of New Jersey recommended that those who have not voted yet still complete their mail-in ballot and return it to a polling place instead of casting a vote in person.
"One, because it's faster, so you're not in the polling location as long as you fill out a provisional ballot. But two, they can start counting those ballots right away," Executive Director Jesse Burns. "Those vote-by-mail ballots can be counted prior to the provisional ballots, so those will go into kind of the bucket to be counted immediately, as opposed to provisional ballots that need to wait until we make sure that somebody didn't also cast a vote-by-mail ballot."
Major races to watch:
— reporting by Michael Shapiro and Dan Alexander