Primary Election

Monmouth County Clerk Christine Giordano Hanlon is advising Monmouth County voters that Governor Murphy announced major changes to the 2020 Primary Election process due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The July 7, 2020 Primary Election will be conducted primarily via Vote by Mail, with limited polling locations open 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on election day for voting on paper provisional ballots only and accessible voting devices for disabled voters only. These updates come after the initial change in the primary election date from June 2, 2020 to July 7, 2020, which was announced in April.

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What is a Primary Election, and how is it different from the General Election?

A Primary Election is a nominating election. In this election, voters indicate their preference for their political party’s candidates to run in the November General Election. Winning at the Primary means that the winning candidate becomes that party’s representative on the General Election ballot. This nomination is the first step in the election process.

In New Jersey, the primary election is considered a “semi-closed” primary. This means that only members of the political parties having primary elections can vote in that election. For example, voters who are registered Democrats cannot vote in the Republican primary and vice versa. Unaffiliated voters can vote in a primary election by choosing the political party they wish to vote. These voters will thereby become members of that political party. New Jersey is one of fifteen states that allow unaffiliated voters to participate in the Primary Election.

A General Election is the election in which all voters make the final choice from among the party nominees and the independent candidates for a specific office. At the November General Election, there are no restrictions to vote for any singular party; voters have the option to vote for any candidates regardless of their party affiliation.

Registered and Active Republican and Democratic voters

According to Executive Order No. 144, all active registered Republican and Democratic voters will automatically receive mail-in ballots for voting in the 2020 Primary Election. The commencement of the mailing of Primary Election ballots to all registered and active civilian Republicans and Democrats will be Friday, June 12, 2020, per the New Jersey Secretary of State.

Registered Unaffiliated and Inactive Republican and Democratic Voters

Per Executive Order No. 144, all registered unaffiliated and inactive Republican and Democratic voters will receive a postage-paid vote by mail application so they can apply to receive a mail-in ballot to vote in the 2020 Primary Election. The vote by mail application was specifically designed by the New Jersey Secretary of State for the 2020 Primary Election and is also available for download by clicking here.

The specific 2020 Primary Election Vote by Mail Application requires unaffiliated voters to declare affiliation with either the Republican or Democratic Party, in order to receive a ballot to vote in the Primary Election. Once the completed vote by mail application is received by the County Clerk’s Office, the voter will receive a mail-in ballot based upon the political party declared on the submitted vote by mail application.

The deadline for the County Clerk’s Election Office to receive a vote by mail application via mail in time to provide a mail-in ballot to the voter by mail for the Primary Election is Tuesday, June 30. In-person vote by mail applications will be accepted by the County Clerk’s Election Office located at 300 Halls Mill Road in Freehold prior to 8 p.m. on Primary Election Day, July 7. It is important to note that unaffiliated voters currently registered to receive vote by mail ballots, must complete the specific 2020 Primary Election Vote by Mail Application to declare a party affiliation, in order to receive a vote by mail ballot for this election.

Unaffiliated voters can also declare their party affiliation at their designated polling location on election day. A voter may return to an unaffiliated status following the Primary Election by completing and returning a Party Declaration Form to the County Commissioner of Registration/Superintendent of Elections. Voters who were already affiliated with a party and wished to change their party affiliation for the July 7, 2020 Primary Election had to make this change by Wednesday, May 13, 2020.

Returning your Completed Mail-In Ballot to the County Board of Elections / Secure Drop Box Locations

Voters can return their completed Primary Election mail-in ballot to the County Board of Elections via mail, drop box, or in-person by the following deadlines, in order for the ballot to be considered timely and to be canvassed, per the Executive Order:

Returning Ballot via USPS Mail

If a voter is returning his or her completed mail-in ballot by mail via the United States Postal Service (USPS), the ballot must be postmarked on or before Primary Election Day, July 7, and received by the County Board of Elections by 8 p.m. on July 14. The County Clerk’s Office has provided a postage-paid envelope for the return of the completed mail-in ballot; therefore, voters are not required to attach a stamp when returning the ballot via USPS.

Returning Ballot via Secure Drop Box

Voters may also choose to deposit the completed mail-in ballot in one of the five secure drop boxes located throughout the County. The deadline for delivering the ballot via drop box is 8 p.m. on Primary Election Day, July 7. Please click here to view the drop box locations throughout the County.

Returning Ballot In-Person

If a voter would prefer to deliver his or her completed mail-in ballot in-person, the deadline for the County Board of Elections at 300 Halls Mill Road in Freehold to receive mail-in ballots in-person is 8 p.m. on Primary Election Day, July 7. If delivered in-person, the voter or the bearer must present identification when surrendering the ballot.

Please review our “Quick Tips for Voting by Mail”, which provides important information of how to complete and return your mail-in ballot.

Limited Polling Places and Info for Voters with Disabilities
A limited number of polling places will be available for voters on July 7, 2020, Primary Election Day, where only paper provisional ballots will be available to cast their vote. Voters will receive a mailed notice a week before the election regarding the location of their polling place.

Voters with disabilities or who need an accessible ballot, should contact the County Clerk’s Office at 732-431-7790, or may go to their assigned polling place which will provide access to an in-person accessible voting device on Primary Election Day.

Sample Ballots
Per the Executive Order, sample ballots will not be mailed to voters for the 2020 Primary Election, however, the County Clerk’s Office has made the sample ballots available on our website, click here to view.

Clerk Hanlon will continue to provide voters with more information as it becomes available. We encourage voters to review the answers to our 2020 Primary Election Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for additional information.

If you have any questions, please contact the County Clerk’s Election Office by phone at 732-431-7790 during normal business hours, Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or by email to ClerkofElections@co.monmouth.nj.us.

We also encourage you to download our Monmouth County Votes Mobile App and to follow the Monmouth County Clerk’s Office on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the latest updates.