Home>Campaigns>428,556 inactive New Jersey voters won’t receive VBM ballots

Volunteers register voters at a Rock the Vote event in Princeton, New Jersey in September 2008. (Photo: Princeton Public Library.)

428,556 inactive New Jersey voters won’t receive VBM ballots

Inactive voters remain eligible and can vote in-person with paper ballots — or request mail-in ballots

By David Wildstein, August 19 2020 6:09 pm

The state Division of Elections is categorizing 428,556 eligible voters as inactive and will not automatically receive vote-by-mail ballots for the November 3 general election.

These voters are still considered registered, and can vote in the upcoming election using provisional paper ballots, or by contacting local election officials and pro-actively requesting a VBM ballot.

The rest of the state, 5,784,060 voters, will receive a mail-in ballot under an executive order signed by Gov. Phil Murphy last week.

Those voters receiving VBM ballots also have the option of casting paper ballots at in-person polling locations.  Murphy has mandated at least one per municipality, and said today that local election officials are welcome to add to that number.

New Jersey tags voters as inactive when official election mail — like a sample ballot — is returned to election officials as an indication that the voter no longer resides at the address listed on their registration, unless the voter has had some communication with election officials.

New Jersey waits for at least two consecutive federal elections to pass without a vote in any other municipal, primary or general election before removing a voter from the official rolls.

That means New Jerseyans who voted in 2014, but not in 2016 or 2018, are scheduled to be taken off the voter list after the 2020 election.

The number of inactive voters prior to the July primary election was 452,972.  That could mean around 25,000 voters on the brink of being placed in the inactive column cast their ballots in a primary election conducted mostly by mail.

Democrats make up 39% of the total registered voters statewide and 32% of the inactive voters.  About 22% of New Jersey voters are Republicans, but the GOP percentage of inactive are 16%.

The largest block of inactive voters who won’t receive VBM ballots are unaffiliateds, sometimes referred to as independents.  Unaffiliated voters represent 37% of the statewide electorate, but 50% of the poll of inactive voters.

About one out of four inactive voters (26%) are ages 35 to 49.  Many of those potentially represent the surge in new voters registration in 2008, when Barack Obama sought the presidency.  It’s also possible, if not likely, that a significant percentage of these voters are now registered in a different county or state and their inactive status represents a duplicate voter registration,  Just 6% of inactive voters are between the ages of 18 and 25, and 22% are between the ages of 25 and 34.

There are no apparent statistical outliers in the state’s most competitive congressional districts.

The greatest partisan disparity is in the 2nd district, where 28% of inactive voters are Democrats and 18% are Republicans.  The numbers are relatively the same in the 3rd, 5th, 7th and 11th districts.  In the 4th, where Republicans outnumber Democrats, there are more inactive

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