What happens if there’s a major screw-up on Election Day?
As we get set for Election Day on Tuesday, Garden State officials are bracing for a variety of possible problems.
The Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness has ramped up cyber security safeguards to prevent possible electronic tampering while election officials and representatives from the Attorney General’s Office will fan out to deal with difficulties at polling locations.
Here's some information voters should know before Tuesday.
I'm registered but my name's not in the book
If you show up to vote and a poll worker tells you that your name is not in the voter book, don't despair.
Authorities this year are expecting this to happen to many voters as a result of a law signed by Gov. Phil Murphy this summer that made anyone who had previously requested a vote-by-mail ballot in a previous election to automatically get one for this election. Voters wishing to vote at the polls on Tuesday had to opt out of the vote-by-mail ballot. Anyone who missed that notice may be unpleasantly surprised on Election Day.
Bob Giles, the executive director of the New Jersey Division of Elections, said if a voter's name is not in the book, the voter can still vote with a provisional ballot at the polling place. Provisional ballots are later checked by county election officials to make sure the voter is registered and didn't vote more than once.
Provisional ballots and broken machines
In addition to a name not appearing in the book, a voter can vote provisionally if they moved to another town within the county but their registration was not updated in time for the election.
If a voting machine breaks, poll workers have emergency paper ballots that can be used.
Complete election rules are posted here.
Challenging poll workers
If a voter believes that they should vote on the machine, Giles said they can get a judge to sign an order. He said each county will have a judge or multiple judges standing by on Election Day.
To get a hearing, a voter needs to call their county's election commissioner. You can find a list of phone numbers for election officials in your county here.
“Should an individual want to appear in front of the judge, they have that option. What they would do is reach out to the county commissioner of registration and they would schedule a hearing right then and there," he said.
Giles noted the length of time it will take to go before the judge will depend on how many other people are also waiting.
Know your polling place
The state election website allows you to check whether you are registered to vote by plugging in your name and date of birth.
You can't just show up to any polling place. The website also lets you know the address of your polling location, as well as which candidates and questions will appear on your ballot.
Reporting suspicious activity
If voters see something suspicious or if it appears someone is being intimidated outside of a polling location, voters should notify the poll workers inside.
Electioneering or campaigning is not permitted within 100 feet of the American flag outside a polling location.
Giles said the State Attorney General’s Office has assigned deputy Attorney Generals to each county election office, so “should a legal issue arise there, there will be somebody on site.”
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com