By MADDY VITALE
So many ways to vote in the Election on Tuesday, Nov. 3 – but not so much time.
With just two weeks left until the election, 39 percent of Cape May County’s registered voters have already mailed in their ballots or slipped them in one of the many drop box locations in the county.
Cape May County Clerk Rita Marie Fulginiti said that of 71,018 ballots issued to active registered voters, as of Tuesday night, 27,610 had already voted.
“With two weeks out until the election, we are urging voters who have made up their minds, to vote their ballot and send it in,” Fulginiti explained. “It really helps the process. First, we have the check-in process and then we start to count the ballots 10 days before the election and onward.”
Fulginiti said that by having as many ballots counted as possible as election night draws nearer, it enables election officials to get an accurate and early tally.
Amid the COVID -19 pandemic, election officials have asked that voters mail in their ballots or use the drop boxes.
Ocean City resident Karen Mathern walked up to City Hall in her hometown and slipped her ballot into the drop box.
She said she trusted the drop box more than she trusts the U.S. Postal Service right now.
“It is so exciting,” Mathern said as she slipped her ballot into the slot this week.
Fulginiti said upon receiving the ballots, election officials have a lot of work to do to make sure the voting slips are properly accounted for and to ensure people only voted once.
But the sooner people put their votes in, the easier and more efficient the process will be.
“The Board of Elections will continue to tally vote-by-mail ballots postmarked by Election Day and received up to seven days later,” she explained, adding that provisional ballots will be counted after vote-by-mail ballots are in.
“We will have a good, unofficial result on election night, because they are checking the ballots in and scanning them in 10 days ahead of time,” Fulginiti pointed out. “There will be a tally posted in capemaycountyvotes.com.”
Within 10 days to two weeks after the election, officials will wrap up everything and by Nov. 20, they will certify the election.
“Everything has to be into the state by Nov. 23,” Fulginiti added.
While people may vote in person at polling locations, it is preferred that in-person voting be reserved for those with a disability. People may vote there using a paper provisional ballot, not the voting machines, Fulginiti noted.
Polling locations are open on Nov. 3 from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. First and Second Ward residents can vote at St. Francis of Cabrini Church at 114 Atlantic Ave. Third and Fourth Ward residents may vote at Our Lady Of Good Counsel Hall located at 3948 Central Ave.
People may also go directly to the Cape May County Board of Elections located at 10 Mechanic Street in Cape May Court House no later than 8 p.m. on Election Day.
So far, Fulginiti said, of the voters who have already cast their ballots, most of them have used the drop box locations.
“The majority of voters are putting them into the drop box, which I like because it saves the county the postage,” she said.
In a year when there is nothing typical, Fulginiti said this election year is one for the books.
“I have never worked an election like this in 35 years,” she emphasized. “Going forward, I don’t know what it will be next year. Maybe it will be a trend toward early voting.”
Fulginiti said one of the issues in this election is that people ripped up their ballots thinking they were samples.
“We have really been very busy with voters saying they need a new ballot, or they threw out a ballot. It is a process to send duplicate ballots,” she said.
Fulginiti said while mail in the postal system has been slowed due to the pandemic, so long as a voter mails out early enough, there should be no concerns.
However, the alternative that provides an added assurance to voters is that people can go to one of 11 drop box locations in the county to cast their ballots.
Here are the locations for the secure drop boxes:
- Cape May County Clerk’s Office, 7 North Main Street, Cape May Court House
- Cape May County Public Works Building, 536 Woodbine-Ocean View Road, Oceanview
- Cape May Municipal Hall, 643 Washington Street, Cape May
- Lower Township Municipal Hall, 2600 Bayshore Road, Villas
- Lower Township Public Safety Building (court entrance) in the Cape May County Airport Complex, Erma
- Martin Luther King Center, 207 W. Main Street, Whitesboro
- Ocean City Municipal Hall, 861 Asbury Avenue, Ocean City
- Sea Isle City Branch Cape May County Library, 4800 Central Ave., Sea Isle
- Stone Harbor Branch Cape May County Library, 9516 2nd Avenue, Stone Harbor
- Upper Township Municipal Hall, 2100 Tuckahoe Road, Petersburg
- Wildwood Municipal Hall, 4400 New Jersey Ave., Wildwood
For more information visit capemaycountyvotes.com