With the 2022 Primary Election fast approaching, Ocean County wants to raise voter awareness that they have a variety of options on casting their ballots.
“Ocean County voters, for the first time, can cast their ballots for the June 7 Primary in early voting which runs from Friday, June 3 through Sunday, June 5,” said Ocean County Clerk Scott M. Colabella. “This is the first primary election with early voting. There will be 10 locations throughout the County where you can cast your ballot early.
“Voters can go to any of the 10 locations to cast their ballots no matter what Ocean County town you might be registered to vote in,” Colabella said. “For instance if you live in Tuckerton and work in Toms River, you can cast your ballot in Toms River during early voting. This is one of the things that makes early voting convenient.”
Colabella stressed that the voting machines at the early voting locations will retrieve the voter’s respective ballot through the use of vetted and approved technology certified by the state of New Jersey.
Early voting locations in Ocean County are:
• The Berkeley Township Branch of the Ocean County Library, 30 Station Road, Bayville
• The Brick Township Branch of the Ocean County Library, 301 Chambers Bridge Road, Brick
• The Jackson Township Branch of the Ocean County Library, 2 Jackson Drive, Jackson
• The Lacey Township Community Center, (former Knights of Columbus building), Room C, 15 East Lacey Road, Lacey Township
• The Lakewood Municipal Building, Courtroom, 231 3rd Street, Lakewood
• The Upper Shores Branch of the Ocean County Library, 112 Jersey City Ave., Lavallette
• The Little Egg Harbor Township Branch of the Ocean County Library, 290 Mathistown Road, Little Egg Harbor Township
• The Ocean County Southern Service Center, Senior Nutrition Site, 179 South Main St., Manahawkin
• The Manchester Township Branch of the Ocean County Library, 21 Colonial Drive, Manchester
• The Toms River Township Branch of the Ocean County Library, 101 Washington St., Toms River
Early voting hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday, June 3 and Saturday, June 4 and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday, June 5.
“While you use a voting machine when you cast an early voting ballot, it is different from what you use on Election Day,” he said. “The Ocean County Board of Elections and poll workers can help with any questions voters may have.”
Ocean County Commissioner Gary Quinn, liaison to the Ocean County Clerk, noted that early voting proved popular during the 2021 General Election with Ocean County having the second highest number of voters in the state casting a ballot early.
Voters can also take advantage of mail-in-ballots.
Colabella noted that voters who request a mail-in ballot from the Ocean County Clerk’s Office can drop off their ballot at any one of 19 ballot drop boxes also located throughout the County, take it to the post office or drop it off at the Board of Elections Office at 129 Hooper Avenue by the 8 p.m., Election Day deadline.
“Most of the ballot drop box locations are also at Ocean County Library branches,” said Colabella.
The locations can be found on the Ocean County Clerk’s website at www.clerk.co.ocean.nj.us
Colabella noted that in New Jersey, any voter can vote by mail. You do not need a reason to vote by mail.
From now until the 3 p.m., June 6 deadline, residents who want to vote by mail and have not already applied for a vote-by-mail ballot must apply in person at the Ocean County Clerk’s Office at 118 Washington St., Toms River. If they are a qualified and registered voter they will then receive the ballot. After the June 6 deadline, a court order is needed to obtain one.
Ocean County issued 54,124 mail-in-ballots as of May 25 including 17,752 to registered Republicans, 22,198 to registered Democrats and 14,182 to unaffiliated.
Colabella said unaffiliated voters can declare a party at the polls on Election Day in order to cast a ballot for a Republican or Democrat candidate.
Almost 14,000 mail-in-ballots so far have been returned.
Quinn reminded voters they can also cast their ballots on Election Day, in person, on a voting machine.
“Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March of 2020, the state of New Jersey has made many changes to how we cast a ballot on Election Day,” Quinn said. “I encourage all of our voters to visit the Ocean County Clerk website to find out about early voting, vote-by-mail, Election Day voting and other questions they may have.
“Voters can still cast ballots the traditional way of going to the polls on Election Day and casting their vote on a voting machine,” he said.
Colabella said sample ballots have been mailed to voters. The sample ballots can also be viewed on the Ocean County Clerk website.
“The sample ballot also includes early voting locations, ballot drop box locations, web sites to access voting information, in addition to early voting directions,” Colabella said. “We want our voters to be well informed on the various options they have to cast their ballot this year.”
Colabella said voters will also notice a change in Congressional Districts on the ballot with the 3rd District no longer covering a part of Ocean County due to redistricting.
“It’s so important to raise voter awareness as to the methods they can use to vote,” Quinn said. “We are doing all we can to let voters know they have options to cast their ballot securely and conveniently.”