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Burlington County voters will have more options for casting their ballot in the upcoming General Election than ever before, including for the first time, voting early with new machines.
The nine-day in-person, early voting period kicks off this Saturday, Oct. 23 and will continue through Sunday, Oct. 31 at all seven early voting locations in Burlington County.
The new voting option makes it easier and more convenient but required the county to purchase new voting machines that are different from the ones most Burlington County voters are familiar with.
Because the technology is different, the Board of Elections is staffing the early voting sites with additional poll workers to answer questions. Early voters are also encouraged to plan extra time to familiarize themselves with the new machines.
“This new technology has been vetted and certified by the State of New Jersey and is state-of-the-art, highly secure and easy to use,” said Burlington County Board of Elections Chair Joseph Dugan. “Still, it is different than what voters are accustomed to and we want voters to know that before they arrive. Early voting is just one option for casting ballots. There is still time to request a Vote-by-Mail ballot and voters can also wait until Election Day on November 2 to cast their ballot at their regular polling location with traditional machines.”
For voters who do elect to vote early at one of the in-person, early voting locations, there are a few things they should know before arriving:
Burlington County voters can cast ballots at any of the seven early-voting sites.
During the early voting period, a registered voter from any of Burlington County’s 40 municipalities can go to any one of the seven early voting locations. This is different than Election Day when voters go to their assigned polling spots in their town of residence.
A list of early voting locations is available on the Burlington County Clerk’s Election Page at http://www.co.burlington.nj.us/192/County-Clerk . All seven sites will be open from 10 AM to 8 PM on Monday through Saturday, and from 10 AM to 6 PM on Sundays.
Voters will sign-in with electronic poll books.
In addition to using new machines for early voting, all voters will be asked to sign-in with new electronic poll books. The change was required to keep early voting secure since registered voters can vote at any early voting site.
The process is nearly the same as voters are used to but requires them to sign an electronic pad with a disposable stylus pen rather than a paper poll book.
Voters will receive a white plastic voter card.
After signing in with the new electronic poll book, voters will be given a white plastic voter card that needs to be inserted into one of the new digital voting machines, which are also called ballot marking devices.
The card activates a digital touch screen and lets the machine know which local ballot to display.
Once activated with the card, the display will show simple instructions. Voters should read these instructions carefully before proceeding to the next step. A “go to ballot” prompt will appear in the right-hand corner of the screen. Touch the prompt to continue.
The new machines use a touch screen.
After selecting the “go to ballot” prompt, the voter’s local ballot will appear on the screen. It will look similar to the ballots New Jersey voters are accustomed to seeing.
Voting is done with the machine’s touch screen. To vote for a candidate or a ballot question, voters should use the stylus or their finger to touch the box on the screen with either the candidate’s name or the ballot question response. The oval on the screen will turn black to mark the selections. To deselect a choice, touch the box on the screen again.
After making all their selections, voters should click the “Review” tab in the bottom right corner of the screen. This will allow voters to review and double check their selections carefully, including those from both sides of the ballot, before proceeding.
Voters must print their completed ballot.
After completing their ballot review, voters proceed by touching the “Print” tab in the bottom right corner of the screen. A printer beneath the touch screen will print a paper copy of the completed ballot. Voters should then remove their voter card and retrieve and review their printed ballot for any errors.
If satisfied with their selections, voters should place their printed ballot into a privacy folder that will be provided.
There is still one more very important step left, so voters should not leave with their printed ballot!
To cast a ballot, voters must use a tabulator machine
Each early voting location will be equipped with two voting tabulator machines. These are the devices that voters must use to actually cast their votes.
After printing and reviewing their paper ballot, voters should proceed to one of the tabulators and insert the marked ballot into the machine to be scanned and tabulated. You can do this with or without the privacy folder.
Once the ballot is inserted and scanned, voters should look for a green check mark on the tabulator screen and the message “ballot successfully cast.” This lets you know that the ballot has been correctly inserted and read.
Afterwards, voters need to return their voter card to poll workers but should keep or dispose of their stylus.
Why use different machines?
The new technology was vetted and certified by the State and was put into place specifically for early voting so that voters can securely vote at any of the seven early voting sites. It also provides a voter-verifiable paper trail of every vote.
Voters going to the polls on Election Day will cast their ballots with traditional machines, though every voter will be required to sign in with an electronic poll book.
Vote-by-Mail ballots are still available.
Voters interested in voting early but with a vote-by-mail ballot can still request one from the Burlington County Clerk’s Office by mail until Oct. 26. The application is available on the Clerk’s website at http://www.co.burlington.nj.us/192/County-Clerk
After Oct. 26, Vote-by-Mail applications must be requested in-person at the County Clerk’s Office at 50 Rancocas Road in Mount Holly.
Completed Vote-by-Mail ballots can be mailed through the U.S. Post Office or placed in one of 28 secure drop boxes located throughout the county. For all Burlington County drop box locations go to, https://nj.gov/state/elections/vote-secure-drop-boxes.shtml
Voters may also hand-deliver completed Vote-by-Mail ballots to the Burlington County Board of Elections Office at 50 Rancocas Road.
All Vote-by-Mail ballots must be postmarked or submitted to the Board of Elections or placed in a drop box before 8 PM on November 2.
“No matter if you vote by mail or with a machine on Election Day or during the new early voting period, rest assured your vote will be counted,” said Commissioner Linda Hynes, the Commissioners’ liaison for Elections. “It doesn’t matter how you vote, the most important thing is that you do, and we hope all registered voters take the time to exercise that right.”