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The 2020 general election in New Jersey will be conducted primarily through vote-by-mail ballots. (Photo: Chris Dorney.)

New Jersey turnout was 77%, with more than 4.6 million votes cast

Vote-by-mail had huge buy in from Republicans, lower turnout in Democratic strongholds

By David Wildstein, December 07 2020 8:13 pm

New Jersey voter turnout for the 2020 general election was 76.6% after a record 4,635,580 votes were cast, including 93.5% through vote-by-mail ballots, according to data released today by the state Division of Elections.

Turnout marked a 17% increase over 2016.

Election officials mailed 6,051,273 ballots after efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 led Gov. Phil Murphy to order an election conducted primarily through mail-on ballots.

The highest turnout in the state was 86% in Hunterdon County – which helped make the 7th district congressional race more competitive – followed by 82% in Monmouth, 79% in Gloucester, and 78% in Burlington, Cape May, Morris, Ocean and Sussex.

Hudson and Essex had the lowest turnout in the state: 62%, an indication that while suburban voters embraced casting their ballots by mail, urban voters in communities of color did not.

A total of 302,158 votes (6.5%) were cast in-person on Election Day – a small fraction by machine for voters requiring special assistance – and most of them on provisional paper ballots.

Despite the noise of Republicans insisting on in-person voting, the highest percentages came from two Democratic strongholds: Hudson, where 14.8% of ballots were cast in-person, and Essex (10.5%).

The most Republican counties in the state bought into vote-by-mail by massive margins: 98.4% in Hunterdon, 97.1% in Sussex, 97% in Monmouth, 96.2% in Morris, 96.1% in Cape May, and 95.7% in Warren.

Of the ballots cast, 66,506 – 1.5% — were rejected by county election boards.  That’s consistent with data from other states.   It’s not yet clear how many cure letters were returned correcting defects in the original ballots.

Hudson and Middlesex had the highest rejection rates: 2.6%.  The lowest was .7% in Morris.

Not surprisingly, the number of VBM ballots was also a record.    The previous record was in the mostly-all VBM primary election in July when 1,283,129 mail-in ballots were counted.

VBM has jumped from 243,623 in the 2008 general to 283,590 in 2012, 355,771 in 2016, and 400,136 in 2018.

Until this year, the record for turnout was in 2016, when 3,957,303 New Jerseyans cast ballots in race for President, Congress and local offices.

New Jersey cast 3,293,378 votes in 2000, 3,638,153 in 2004, 3,910,220 in 2008, and 3,686,638 in 2012.

Turnout was at 72% based on the total number of registered voters in the state, including those on the ineligible list that did not receive vote-by-mail ballots or any notifications of voting instructions.

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