Voting for the Nov. 3, 2020 general election will be markedly different than voting the traditional way of entering a voting booth and pressing the buttons next to your preferred candidates.

However, under COVID-19, using a mail-in ballot is the preferred choice in New Jersey. Voters in Mercer County will start to receive their mail-in ballots the week of Sept. 28, 2020. The Mercer County Clerk will mail every registered voter a mail-in ballot. The ballot can be returned via the United States Post Office, dropping in one of the secure ballot drop boxes located throughout the county, at your polling location and—as we get closer to the election—by hand delivering to the Mercer County Board of Elections.

If you wish to vote in person, a notice will be sent to your attention as to your polling location. In accordance with Executive Order No. 177, voting in person can occur in two-ways: (1) voting booth only if you qualify as a disabled voter; (2) you will be provided a paper ballot to complete.

To ensure the counting of your mail-in ballot, please follow these rules to help in processing your ballot.

Register to vote:

You have until Oct. 13 to register to vote. The Superintendent of Elections is the office to contact to address any registration issues.

Do not remove the certificate:

Your mail-in ballot will come with one outer envelope, one inner envelope, and the ballot. Once you complete your ballot, it is to be placed inside the envelope that has a detachable flap. Do not detach that flap. Then insert the entire inner envelope in the pre-paid postage envelope that will allow for delivery to the Mercer County Board of Elections.

Complete and sign the certificate:

The Mercer County Board of Elections will remove your signed certificate once we can match your signature. Your ballot is then placed with other ballots, so your vote will remain anonymous. The certificate is saved and archived.

Certification signature:

If you registered to vote and think your signature has changed over time, please update your signature on file. You can download a voter registration application from the New Jersey Division of Elections website and check “Signature Update” at the top of the application.

If your signature does not match, you will receive a letter from the Mercer County Board of Elections, providing you with the opportunity to correct or cure your signature. Please complete and return this letter under the time frame permitted.

Completing your ballot:

Please use blue or black ink only and follow the directions for filling-in the circle. A ballot is read by a computer scanner that tabulates votes, and it will not read red ink or pencil.

Counting your ballot:

When your ballot is received and vetted, it will be placed with the ballots to be counted. The ballot will be separated from the inner envelope and placed in the group of ballots to be scanned. The ballots will be grouped by municipality. The ballot will be processed and read by a computer scanner. The scanning is supervised by the Mercer County Board of Elections and an outside vendor. The scanning system is a secure and private system.

Do not miss the deadline:

If you plan on mailing your ballot, please make sure your ballot is postmarked no later than Nov. 3, 2020. If you decide to place your ballot in a secured ballot drop box or deliver in person, it must be placed in the drop box no later than 8 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2020.

Anthony Francioso, Esq., Chairman (Republican)

Mary Corrigan (Democrat)

Anthony J. Conti (Republican)

Jill Moyer (Democrat)

The authors compose the Mercer County Board of Elections, the bipartisan board that oversees the collection of mail-in ballots and tabulates the results.