Voting by Paper Ballot 101

The 2020 General election will again be a hybrid approach with all active voters automatically receiving a ballot. Read about the announcement and visit our Election FAQ page for more info.


Many people will be receiving their ballot in the mail for the first time in 2020. Below are some instructions and tips to keep in mind to make sure your voting is successful.
For full details on deadlines on when and how to vote, visit our General Election 2020 FAQ page.

Navigating and Completing your Mailed Ballot

Here is a sample ballot for Madison for the general election. Your ballot will have the same layout, but have personalized information in the packet.

Read the instructions below or watch our informative video on how to complete and return your ballot:

  1. When you get your ballot, open it right away, read all the instructions and DO NOT throw anything away.
  2. Fill out your ballot and use ONLY a pencil or ink pen (black or blue).  See image below on how to fill in each selection. We encourage you to vote for every race on the ballot, but it is not required. You CANNOT vote for more candidates than is permitted or your vote will not count. So read the “Office Title” column carefully– it will tell you if you are voting for one (example, Freeholder) or two (example, Borough Council).
  3. Fold your completed ballot and put inside the inner envelope, and seal it.
  4. Fill out the “Certificate of Mail-in Voter” that is attached to the inner envelope. DO NOT DETACH. This self-certification is required to confirm that you filled out the ballot in secret and is required for your ballot to be accepted and to count. You are allowed an Assistor and if you are doing that, fill that section out.
  5. Be sure you SIGN your NAME on the Certificate– a surprising number of people neglect to do this.
  6. Place the completed inner envelope inside the pre-paid postage outer envelope and seal it– DO NOT USE TAPE.  If you must, use a glue stick sparingly.
  7. Submit your completed ballot using one of the approved methods.

What if I Have a Problem With My Paper Ballot?
  1. If you lose your paper ballot, it is destroyed or you don’t think you received it:
    1. Immediately request a duplicate from the County Clerk’s Office: 973-285-6715
  2. Ballots will be rejected if you fail to sign the ballot, and if you attempt to tape the ballot of if it is detached or damaged.

Why are ballots rejected?

The most common reasons that ballots were rejected in the primary were:

  • Arrived too late (Don’t let that be you!).
  • Certificate missing (Read our instructions on completing your ballot).
  • Signature not matching. Worried about this? Complete a signature update using the registration form (just tick the signature update box).

How to Make Sure You Get a ballot
  1. Make sure you are registered to vote. You can check on the NJ Division of Elections page. Deadline to register is October 13th.
  2. If you have recently moved or want to update your address, contact the Clerk’s office right away: 973-285-6715

What Security Features Exist for Paper Ballots?

Thank you to ATNJ for providing this image. More details on ballot security can be found on their website.

Visit the Morris County Clerk’s Website for full information on VBM