Somerset County Begins Ballot Count for 2020 General Election
From Somerset County Board of Elections / Posted on October 29, 2020
Almost 24,000 Ballots Tabulated on First Day of Scanning out of 123,000 Ballots Already Received
The Somerset County Board of Elections began the scanning of a record number of paper “vote by mail” ballots for the general election on October 28, completing 23,800 ballot scans out of approximately 123,000 ballots submitted.
Because of Governor Murphy’s Executive order #177 requiring all active voters be mailed a paper ballot, the count already exceeds the total number of Somerset County mail in ballots from the last presidential election counted by more than 10,000.
“The process for ensuring every voter who wants to vote can, and that every ballot counted is a valid ballot, is rigorous and detailed, but the commissioners (freeholders) and I have worked hard to create a secure, seamless process,” said Board of Elections Administrator Jerry Midgette. “More than 100 county employees supported by National Guard members are working cooperatively to receive, verify, open, count, and secure every ballot to ensure a free and fair election.” Board of Elections staff removing ballots from certificate envelopes in preparation for being tabulated.Every person who works at or visits the secure counting site, including campaign “challengers” and elected officials, must fill out a form attesting to their health status, wear personal protective equipment, and practice social distancing at all times.
Somerset County Clerk Steve Peter says he expects around 180,000 ballots to be cast in total based on the ballots sent, more than 10,000 new voters registering since Labor Day, and the volume of ballots returned early. In the 2016 presidential election the State of New Jersey reports a total of 157,092 ballots cast, slightly more than 13,500 by mail-in-ballot.
“We’ve provided more than a quarter million ballots to voters, and we are already seeing record turnout which will likely continue through next Tuesday,” said Peter. “We will continue to provide ballots and voter assistance at our office in Somerville for anyone who needs a replacement because of a misplaced, damaged, or improperly filled out ballot.”
To help ensure ballots are received in time to be included in the 2020 County, both Midgette and Peter encourage voters to submit their ballots as early as possible. For early ballot submission, voters can:
Use one of the 13 drop boxes throughout Somerset County where ballots are retrieved daily which can be found at https://bit.ly/34F6nBe; or
Come to the county administration building at 20 Grove Street in Somerville from 9 am to 4 pm on weekdays, from 9 am to noon on Saturday, and from 6 am to 8 pm on Election Day to provide assistance to voters in submitting ballots, or obtaining a replacement for lost or damaged ballots. Voters must wear a face mask and practice social distancing during these hours.
Somerset County has compiled information, video tutorials, and other support for the 2020 General Election at http://www.co.somerset.nj.us/2020General.
Any voter who has a question they need answered in encouraged to fill out the form at https://www.co.somerset.nj.us/government/elected-officials/county-clerk/2020-election-guide/election-questions and they will receive a response within one business day.