Election Day mostly quiet at New Jersey polling locations
Election Day has been a quiet one around New Jersey as voters apparently took advantage of this year's mail-in ballot and stayed away from polling places.
Ballots were mailed to every registered New Jersey voter to return at a county drop box, county clerk's office or via the mail. Nearly 3.7 million early votes were received in New Jersey as of Tuesday morning.
"Some counties had 50% turnout before Election Day. We're at 72%. We are higher than our turnout for all of 2016 before Election Day started. I am ecstatic about what has gone on here in Monmouth County," County Clerk Christine Hanlon told 92.7 WOBM News.
Voters also had the option of voting in person at a limited number of polling places. Their ballots will be not by counted until Nov. 10. Hanlon said that Monmouth County residents responded to the message that voting by mail was the better way to go.
"We were trying to avoid a heavy turnout on Election Day because that would make the counting process very difficult. Everything we worked for, everything we hoped for is bearing true," Hanlon said.
League of Women Voters of New Jersey recommended that those who have not voted yet still complete their mail-in ballot and return it to a polling place instead of casting a vote in person.
"One, because it's faster, so you're not in the polling location as long as you fill out a provisional ballot. But two, they can start counting those ballots right away," Executive Director Jesse Burns. "Those vote-by-mail ballots can be counted prior to the provisional ballots, so those will go into kind of the bucket to be counted immediately, as opposed to provisional ballots that need to wait until we make sure that somebody didn't also cast a vote-by-mail ballot."
Voters who took the in-person option reported lines early in the morning but the lines moved quickly.
Ana Roman, of Toms River, filled out a paper provisional ballot Tuesday morning at an elementary school.
"I was only in there for a few minutes. The process was very smooth. Everyone was very helpful. I thought there would've been a line — there was no line, everything was spacious and everyone followed the six-feet rule," Roman told 92.7 WOBM News. "I just felt like going in person. Knowing that my vote was in the box made me feel very sure and confident."
Brian Abdilla, of Howell, filled out a paper provisional ballot Tuesday morning at the municipal building because he said he didn't feel like filling it out and dropping it off.
"This is just a couple minutes from where I live. I figured I'll come early in the morning, probably won't be a long line, bang it out real quick," Abdilla said.
Ross Reed, of Farmingdale, said he waited until Tuesday to drop off his mail-in ballot at the municipal building in Howell because "a true American votes on Election Day."
"It feels good today. I didn't know what to expect to be honest with you, but it was very simple and super easy," Reed said.
Vote by mail breakdowns by county as of Tuesday morning:
Middlesex and Bergen Counties were among 44 jurisdictions in 18 states being monitored by the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. They're tasked with looking for any signs of voter intimidation or voter suppression based on race, color, national origin or religion, or other violations of federal election law.
Voting locations are open until 8 p.m., ballots must also be returned to secure ballot boxes by that time.
Michael Symons contributed to this report.
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