Tag Archives: voter education

Civics 101: Voting

The following blog post was written by Vishali Gandhi, LWVNJ summer intern.

The United States was founded upon principles of democratic government and freedoms, among them the right to vote for representatives in government. However, voting was not always universal. Voting rights were initially reserved for only white, property-owning males, but as the country grew and progressed, suffrage (the right to vote) expanded to include non-land owners, people of color, and women. While requirements to register differ according to state, in order to vote in New Jersey you must be a citizen of the U.S., 18 years of age by the time of the election, a resident of NJ for at least 30 days prior to the election, and you cannot be serving time in jail or on probation or parole for a felony.

In order to register to vote, you must complete a Voter Application form and either mail it or hand it in to either the Commissioner of Registration or Superintendent of EVotelections, depending on your county. You can check to see if you are registered and where you are registered through the Division of Elections website, or by calling your county’s Commissioner of Registration or Superintendent of Elections. You must register to vote at least 21 days before the date of the election in order to participate in that election.

General elections, including elections for the President, Governor, members of Congress, state legislators, and some county and municipal officials, are scheduled for the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November during a year in which an election is due. Primary elections, during which parties nominate a candidate to run during the general election, are held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in June. New Jersey has closed primary elections, meaning that only voters who have registered with a party may vote in that party’s primary election (party affiliation can be declared when initially registering to vote on the Voter Registration form or can be declared or changed by filling out a Party Affiliation Change form). Municipal elections are generally held with the General Elections. However, some municipalities hold nonpartisan elections (in which officials do not affiliate with a particular party) on the second Tuesday in May.

The process of voting is relatively simple: once you enter the voting booth, you will see a screen on which there are options for each position that must be filled (you will receive a sample ballot in the mail before the election so you can familiarize yourself with the layout of the ballot beforehand). Before submitting your ballot with your choices, you can change your decision as many times as you like. Once the ballot has been submitted, however, it is final and cannot be changed. If you have any questions or concerns, poll workers are available to aid in the process.

VP of Advocacy Nancy Hedinger answers voter questions through hotline

LWVNJ VP of Advocacy Nancy Hedinger answers voter questions

In addition, you can call the League of Women Voters of NJ at 1-800-792-VOTE (8683) or contact@lwvnj.org with any questions, concerns, or comments. Lines at polling places are known to get very long, especially during particularly important elections such as general elections for the Governor or President. By law, if you are in line at your polling place when the polls close, you have a right to vote. In New Jersey, polls are open from 6:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m.

If there is trouble with your registration, you may be asked to fill out a provisional ballot. A provisional ballot is a paper ballot that is administered in the following cases:

  • If your registration information is missing or is not complete in the poll book
  • If you moved from your registered address to another one in the same county and did not re-register at your new address
  • If you are a first-time voter and when you registered to vote you did not provide proper identification or the information you provided could not be verified and you did not bring your ID on Election Day (for your provisional ballot to be counted, you have until the close of business on the second day after the election to provide your county elections officials with the required ID information)
  • If you requested a vote-by-mail ballot but you never received it

Provisional ballots are counted only after they have been verified by the county’s Board of Elections.

Voting is a fundamental right and is vital for sustaining a democratic system, so it is very important to be aware of your rights when you go to vote. For first-time voters, familiarizing yourself with the ballot as well as knowing what to expect can be very helpful. The League of Women Voters of New Jersey has a wealth of information on voting rights, important dates and upcoming events, as well as a comprehensive “Frequently Asked Questions” page to help keep you informed.

Get Informed! Voter Guides and Ballot Questions

The League of Women Voters of New Jersey Education Fund is dedicated to encouraging informed and active participation in government. As part of this mission, we have published a voters guide and ballot question analyses. We hope that these nonpartisan voters tools help you make an informed decision when you head out to the polls on November 6th.

Voter Guides

The League of Women Voters of New Jersey Education Fund asked all N.J. candidates running for U.S. Senate and House of Representatives twelve policy questions. These questions cover an array of important issues including unemployment, clean energy, education, immigration and health care.

U.S. Senate candidate answers are available here.

U.S. House of Representatives answers are available here.       

Ballot Question Analyses

This year, there will be two statewide public questions on the ballot. One will ask if voters approve the “Building Our Future Bond Act” and the second will ask if voters approve an amendment to the NJ Constitution to allow contributions set by law to be taken from the salaries of Supreme Court Justices and Superior Court judges for their employee benefits.

To help voters understand these questions we have published an analysis of each question. This information includes the ballot question and the interpretive statement as they appear on the ballot, as well as helpful background on the issue, and balanced reasons a voter may vote yes and reasons a voter may vote no. The League of Women Voters of New Jersey does not have a position on either question.

Ballot question analyses are available here.

We hope that you find this information useful. If you have any questions, please contact the League of Women Voters of New Jersey at 1-800-792-VOTE (8683) and be sure to check out our website  for other important voting information.

Statewide Voter Registration Weekend

Need to register to vote, change your address, or request a vote by mail ballot? The League of Women Voters of New Jersey will be out in communities around the state this weekend registering voters and answering questions! Find a drive near you:

Essex County

September 11, LWV of Maplewood – South Orange will be registering voters during Newcomers Day in Meadowland Park in South Orange from 1 pm – 4 pm.

September 11, LWV of Newark will be registering voters in Mildred Helms Park in Newark from 12 pm – 4 pm.

September 11, LWV of the Nutley Area will be registering voters at the Nutley Shop Rite from 10 am – 3 pm.

September 11 & 12, LWV of Montclair will be registering voters during the Fine Arts and Crafts Fair in Anderson Park in Montclair from 10 am – 3 pm.

September 13, LWV of Livingston will be registering voters during the Welcome of Livingston Picnic at the Livingston Senior Community Center from 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm.

Bergen County

September 11 & 12, LWV of Teaneck will be registering voters at the Teaneck Stop & Shop from 10 am – 2 pm.

Monmouth County

September 12, LWV of Western Monmouth will be registering voters during Marlboro Day at the Marlboro Municipal Complex from 12 pm – 5 pm.

September 20 – 25, LWV of the Greater Red Bank Area will be registering voters all week at the Monmouth Mall in Eatontown from 10 am – 9 pm.

Middlesex County

September 11, LWV of Monroe Township will be registering voters at the Monroe Township Post Office on Perrineville Road from 10 am – 2 pm.

Mercer County

September 11, LWV of Princeton will be registering voters at the Princeton Library from 10:30 am – 4:30 pm and in Tiger Park from 11 am – 5 pm.

September 12, LWV of Lawrence Township will be registering voters at the Lawrenceville Farmers Market (16 Gordon Ave) from 9 am – 1 pm.

Camden County

(Tentative) September 11, LWV of Camden County will be registering voters at Shoprite in Cherry Hill from 10 am – 3 pm.

September 16, LWV of Camden County will be registering voters during naturalization ceremonies at the Federal Courthouse in Camden at 10 am.

September 22, LWV of Camden County will be registering voters at Camden County College in Camden from 12 pm – 2 pm.

September 29, LWV of Camden County will be registering voters at Camden County College in Blackwood from 12 pm – 2 pm.

Atlantic County

September 11 & 12, LWV of Atlantic County will be registering voters at the Shore Mall in Egg Harbor Township from 11 am – 5 pm on Saturday and 12 pm – 5 pm on Sunday.

Not sure if you are registered to vote or need to change your address? Now you can check for that information online!

More drives to be added soon, and don’t forget you can call the League of Women Voters of New Jersey at 1-800-792-VOTE with any of your voting questions!