Commentary: A vote-by-mail open letter to the Morris County Clerk

A mailbox in Convent Station. Photo by Tyler Barth
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My name is Cathy Yamashita. I am a resident of Florham Park and I am very concerned about my vote, and that of all my fellow residents of Morris County, being received on time to be counted, given the widely publicized mail delays with the Postal Service.

Activists at Convent Station protest pre-election Postal Service cuts by the Trump Administration, Aug. 21, 2020. Photo by Tyler Barth

I have a number of questions that, once answered, hopefully will allay my concerns. I am sending this letter via the press as an open letter rather than directly to the County Clerk, because I imagine that many residents have the same concerns and questions and will benefit from seeing the response.

Given the delays we all have been experiencing with mail deliveries by the Postal Service, as of now I intend to put my ballot in an official ballot box to ensure it is received on time and counted.

Currently there are only five ballot boxes in Morris County. While two of the five are near my home, there are many residents for whom the locations of the ballot boxes are not convenient at all.

Morris Clerk Ann Grossi at Morris County Clerk 'Wall of Honor' ceremony, April 18, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Morris Clerk Ann Grossi at Morris County ceremony in 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Is there a plan to distribute more ballot boxes prior to the general election and if so, how do you intend to communicate this information to residents?

How do I know the ballot box is secure and cannot be tampered with?

When it is time to empty the contents of the ballot boxes, will there be representatives of both parties present to ensure the counting of the ballots is done fairly?

Will ballot boxes be emptied periodically during the month of October or only once on Nov. 3, 2020?

If only once, what is the time by which ballots must be dropped in a ballot box to be counted? If periodically, please explain the process by which the ballots will be stored and counted.

For those who plan to vote in person on Nov. 3, please explain how the voting process will be different than in years past due to COVID 19.

I know that Governor Murphy issued an order that all registered voters in New Jersey are to receive a mail-in ballot. But if I specifically requested a mail-in ballot and I decide to vote in person instead, can I go to my local polling location to vote on Nov. 3?  Or am I required to use my mail in ballot because I specifically requested one?

If I prefer to personally hand in my ballot to a person, please let me know to which locations in Morris County I can deliver my ballot.

Respectfully,

Cathy Yamashita

The opinions above are the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect those of this publication. Morris County Clerk Ann Grossi is welcome to respond here if she wishes.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. You can track the progress of your ballot. Here’s how: Start by signing into your personal New Jersey Voter Registration System account information.

    Log Into Your NJ Voter Information System Account

    If do not already have an account, you can set up your NJ Voter Information System account.

    Set Up Your NJ Voter Information System Account

    *Or you can also call your County Election Officials to track your Mail-In Ballot.

    Remember to return your completed vote by mail ballot. IF YOU CHOOSE TO VOTE AT THE POLLS YOU WILL VOTE USING A PROVISIONAL PAPER BALLOT. You can also drop off your completed, signed, and sealed vote by mail ballot at your polling location on Election Day. Provisional ballots will be counted after all vote by mail ballots have been counted. Accommodations will be made for voters with disabilities.

  2. What is the chain of custody once a ballot is placed in the mail drop ballot box until it is counted?

    The Sussex County election office recently “found” approximately 1,700 uncounted ballots from the June primary in a bin in their office. How will you ensure that doesn’t happen with mail in ballots?

    How can I check to ensure that my mail in ballot was actually counted?

    What steps are being taken to prevent mail in ballot fraud, similar to what happened in Paterson NJ, where 4 individuals were indicted for voter fraud?

  3. Thank you, Cathy, for these thoughtful questions.

    I do hope that the Morris County Clerk will respond on Morristown Green and not leave people wondering about these issues.

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