Voting is the foundation of our democracy, giving citizens a voice in deciding on laws, policies and leaders at all levels of government. The ACLU-NJ seeks to protect the basic and fundamental right to vote and to ensure that all ballots that are cast are fully and fairly counted.
Before you step into the polling booth, make sure you know your rights.
You have the right to vote on Election Day if . . .
- You have registered to vote at least 21 days before Election Day. You can get a postage paid voter registration application from the New Jersey Division of Elections. There is no fee or cost for registering to vote. Note: You have the right to register at the address considered your primary address. If you are a college student, it can be a dorm, off-campus address, or a home address. If you are homeless, it can be a shelter, park, or any place you usually stay.
- You meet the legal requirements to register to vote.
You can register to vote if . . .
- You are a U.S. citizen, you will be at least 18 years old on Election Day, and have been a resident of a New Jersey county for at least 30 days before the election.
- A court has not specifically determined that you lack the mental capacity to understand the act of voting. Note: Someone who has been assigned a legal guardian or placed in a psychiatric hospital can still exercise the right to vote unless it has specifically been revoked.
- You are not in prison, on probation or on parole for a felony conviction. Note: If you’re serving time for a misdemeanor or civil matter you can still vote. You have the right to register and to vote from jail using a mail-in ballot. If you lost your voting rights for a felony conviction, your right to vote is restored once you complete your sentence, parole and probation. You must re-register to vote, even if you were registered before your conviction.
NJ Voters' Bill of Rights on Election Day
- To vote without intimidation, threats, coercion, or interference.
- To bring your children into the voting booth with you.
- To file a signed or anonymous written complaint at your polling place or by mail, telephone, or online if you are dissatisfied with the way the election is being run.
- To bring someone of your choice into the voting booth to assist you with voting if you cannot read or write English or have a disability. You can also request special assistance from the poll worker.
- To vote by an emergency paper ballot if the machines are malfunctioning. Emergency ballots are counted automatically.
- To be given a provisional ballot if you are not allowed to vote on a machine or by emergency ballot. The ballot should have written instructions, including how to find out if it was counted. Your eligibility to vote must be verified by the county before your provisional ballot is counted.
- To vote under your original name if you have changed your name since registering to vote.
- To ask for assistance from a poll worker.
Voting Problems at the Polls
If your polling location is not open when you arrive, call our hotline at 1-800-792-VOTE (8683) or the Division of Elections at 1-877-NJVOTER to alert officials of the problem. Polls are open 6 a.m. - 8 p.m. If your right to vote is challenged by an official challenger, ask the poll worker for an affidavit, which you will sign to confirm your identity or address. The worker will allow you to vote either on the machine or by a provisional ballot.
You have the right to vote by provisional ballot
- You believe you are entitled to vote but your name is not on the poll list of voters.
- You have moved recently within your county and have not registered at your new address.
- You are a first-time voter and you did not provide the accepted form of ID when you registered to vote and did not bring it on Election Day.
- You must bring acceptable ID to the appropriate county office within 48 hours of voting for your provisional ballot to be counted. Poll workers must give you a form that tells you where the office to bring your ID is located.
- You requested a mail-in ballot but didn’t receive it in time.
If you are not allowed to vote or if you feel you are wrongly made to vote on a provisional ballot when you’re entitled to vote on the machine, you have the right to present your case to an election judge on Election Day who will determine your eligibility to vote. If you intend to appear before an election judge, call our Voter Hotline at 1-800-792-VOTE (8683) for assistance.
2012 Election Dates and Deadlines
Municipal Elections: May 8 (April 17 registration deadline)
State Primary Election: June 5 (May 15 registration deadline)
General Election: Nov. 6 (Oct. 16 registration deadline)
Can I vote by mail-in ballot?
Any registered voter in New Jersey can vote by mail rather than in person at the polls. You must obtain the application for the mail-in ballot from your county clerk or online at http://tinyurl.com/NJmailballots Mail the completed form so it arrives at least seven days before the election, or deliver it in person by 3 p.m. on the day before the election.
Where is my polling place?
Your polling location is indicated on your sample ballot, which you’ll receive in the mail. You can also call your county elections office to ask where you should vote. Or visit NJ’s online poll locator.
Do I have to show ID on Election Day?
If you are a first time voter, yes. You will need to provide ID if you registered by mail and did not provide proper identification or the information you provided could not be verified.
Is my polling place accessible to voters with disabilities?
All polls and voting machines are required to be accessible. If yours is not, call our hotline 1-800-792-VOTE.
How do I know if the machine counted my vote?
If you’re not sure whether your vote was counted, ask a poll worker for help. Make sure that you press the large “X” at the bottom right after you make all of your selections to register your vote on the machine. You may only vote on an emergency paper ballot if the poll worker has determined that the machine is malfunctioning.