TRENTON – The election isn’t officially until Nov. 2, but the first voter deadline is just days away.

More than one in 10 registered voters in New Jersey are on what’s called the permanent vote-by-mail list, having signed up to receive ballots in their mailbox for every election.

But if they would rather vote early in person on voting machines, an option new to the state this year that starts Oct. 23, the vote-by-mail voters should tell their county clerks by Tuesday, Aug. 31, that they want off the mailing list.

“If you want to try the new in-person early voting, we are asking that you reach out to your county clerk by this date to be removed from the permanent vote-by-mail list, so you can vote in-person during the early voting period if you want,” said Robert Giles, director of the state Division of Elections.

Giles said voters can call their county clerk to receive the instructions for what to do to get off the list. Mail-in ballots are being distributed starting in just over three weeks, so time is short.

“The vote-by-mail ballots start going out on Sept. 18, so we want to give enough time to make sure your name gets off that list before the mailing goes out,” Giles said.

Vote-by-mail registrants who try to vote in person, whether early or on Election Day, can do so – but not the way they probably want.

“They will not be allowed to vote on the voting machine in person. They will have to vote provisionally because they’ve been issued a vote-by-mail ballot.”

Provisional ballots are counted, but not until six days after Election Day so officials can make sure they don’t receive a mail-in ballot from that voter.

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Roughly 690,000 people are registered to receive vote-by-mail ballots for every election to opt out. Giles says he doesn’t know how many people have opted out of vote-by-mail so can they vote early in person but that counties have been getting some requests.

Early, in-person machine voting will be held in at least three locations in every county from Oct. 23 to Oct. 31.

Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at


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