It’s finally here: Election Day is Tuesday, November 3rd. Are you ready?
Maplewood and South Orange officials are. They have been working hard to ensure that in-person voting on Election Day goes without a hitch. Both towns have completed walkthroughs of the polling places, all locations have been cleaned and sanitized, all are stocked with PPE for both poll workers and voters.
But officials — local, county and state — are urging voters to AVOID polling places entirely unless absolutely necessary.
“Take it to the ballot box,” said Maplewood Town Clerk Liz Fritzen on Monday. “There will be no line.”
Remember there is NO electronic voting on a machine on November 3 unless you are visually impaired. Anyone else will be casting a provisional or paper ballot, which won’t be counted until several days after Election Day. And fewer polling places are open this year than usual — so lines might be longer.
The good news: South Orange and Maplewood have been voting early this year in very strong numbers. As of the end of October, SOMA voters had cast a number of ballots representing 90% of the entire turnout in the 2016 election. See the end of this article for recent statistics from Maplewood TC member Vic DeLuca.
So what is the best way to make sure your vote is counted and the process goes smoothly for everyone?
Avoid the Lines; Use the Ballot Drop Boxes
Maplewood and South Orange have their own ballot drop boxes (although Essex County voters can use any ballot box in the county.) Ballot boxes are open 24 hours a day — until 8 p.m. sharp on November 3.
Maplewood Drop Box: 1618 Springfield Avenue, Maplewood
South Orange Drop Box: Sloan Street Gazebo, South Orange
Voters can also bring their completed ballot to the Hall of Records in Newark (465 Dr Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Newark, NJ), or to a polling place on Election Day — until 8 p.m.
(Note: You may only turn in your own ballot at an in-person voting place. You cannot be the “bearer” of another person’s ballot.)
Who’s On the Ballot?
In addition to choosing the next president, New Jersey residents will be casting their votes for US Senator, House of Representatives, Freeholders and more. Locally, South Orange and Maplewood residents are also casting ballots for Board of Education candidates, and Maplewood residents are voting for two Township Committee members.
See sample ballots for Essex County voters here: http://www.essexclerk.com/_Content/pdf/November-3rd-2020-General-Election-Sample-Ballots.pdf
Check out Village Green’s Election Roundup here for information on local and state elections.
See how to complete your mail-in ballot so that it is not disqualified:
If you must vote in person, here’s what you need to know
Polls are open in New Jersey from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Find your polling place below.
Despite discouraging in-person voting on Election Day, Fritzen and South Orange Acting Village Clerk Ojetti Davis are confident that voting will go smoothly. “We have gone out of our way to prepare, and we feel it will be smooth for our Maplewood voters,” said Fritzen.
If you have your mail-in ballot, complete it and bring it to your polling place. Just like in previous elections, you will sign the poll book next to your name. Then you drop your ballot into a secure ballot sack, said Davis. If you are voting a provisional ballot, you will be provided one to fill out and drop off. (Save time; know ahead who are you voting for!)
Read more about what to expect from in-person voting in this NJ Spotlight article.
In-person voting goes by your voting district. Find your usual polling place here.
- Maplewood Community Center, 120 Burnett Ave. (districts 9, 11,1 2, 13, 15, 20, 21)
- Maplewood Town Hall, 574 Valley Street (districts 1, 3, 5, 6, 19)
- The Woodland, 60 Woodland Road (districts 2, 7, 8, 17)
- Clinton School, 27 Berkshire Road (districts 4, 10, 14, 16, 22)
- Seton Hall University, Student Center, 400 South Orange Avenue (Districts 1 & 12)
- South Orange Middle School, 70 North Ridgewood Rd. (districts 3, 6, 7, 8, 13)
- Marshall School, 262 Grove Road (districts 2 & 10)
- First Presbyterian & Trinity Church, 111 Irvington Avenue (districts 4, 9, 11)
Safety and Security
“This election is different on several counts and we are taking measures related to COVID and safety from providing PPE to having a police presence at all locations at all times,” said Maplewood Mayor Frank McGehee in an email.
Fritzen emphasized that police officers will be there solely to safeguard the rights of voters and to help ensure the process goes smoothly. “They will not be interfering in any way with voting.”
South Orange Acting Clerk Davis said police officers will simply be monitoring the sites. “The county does not want any voter intimidation,” she said.
Fritzen said social distancing ambassadors will be at each polling place in Maplewood to ensure voters are wearing masks and maintaining social distance. Extra masks and hand sanitizer will be available for voters as well.
When Will We Know Who Won?
“We won’t know much on Election night,” said Fritzen. That is because so many voters have already mailed or dropped off their ballots, and the Essex County Clerk’s Office is responsible for counting them.
It might take “a week or so” to learn the results of many races, Davis said.
However, Gov. Phil Murphy said at a press conference Monday, “I believe we’re going to know a fair amount by tomorrow night.”
Voters shouldn’t expect there to be concrete “winners” to many races on Election Night. This does not indicate voter fraud or that there is anything amiss. This is to be expected in this unique election year.
Read more here on how the Associated Press declares winners in elections.
See this NJ Spotlight article on when New Jersey residents can expect to know who won.
To sum up:
- Vote, if you haven’t yet, preferably by ballot drop box before 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3.
- If you’re voting in person, expect lines. Bring your prepared mail-in ballot ready to drop off. If you’re voting a paper ballot, familiarize yourself with the ballot ahead of time. Bring a mask, and remember to stay 6 feet away from your fellow voters.
- Don’t be anxious if final, certified results are not known on Election Night, or even for a week or more afterwards.
- Stay calm, take deep breaths — and don’t believe everything you read on social media. Rely on trusted news sources for accurate and up-to-date information.
Now Over 90% of the 2016 Election
Maplewood 12,137 votes cast
92% of votes in 2016
61% of registered voters
Of Maplewood’s 12,137 votes cast, 9,083 Democrats voted (75%), 616 Republicans voted (5%), 2,391 unaffiliated voters voted (19%), and votes by those with other party registration (1%)
South Orange 8,147 votes cast
93% of votes in 2016
60% of registered voters
Of South Orange’s 8,147 votes cast, 6,102 Democrats voted (75%), 415 Republicans voted (5%), and 1,620 unaffiliated voters voted (20%)