Home>Governor>Late-arriving ballots won’t need postmark in grace period’s first 48 hours

The U.S. Postal Service is a critical partner as New Jersey steps up vote-by-mail elections. Photo by Rusty Clark.

Late-arriving ballots won’t need postmark in grace period’s first 48 hours

Governor again extends mail-in ballot grace period to seven days

By Nikita Biryukov, August 14 2020 5:38 pm

New Jersey voters won’t need to have their ballots postmarked so long as they reach election officials within the two days following election day.

As part of the general election plan announced Tuesday, Gov. Phil Murphy said late-arriving mail-in ballots postmarked by election day will be counted if they are received before 8 p.m. on Nov. 10.

Ballots received by 8 p.m. Nov. 5, the Thursday following election day, will be considered valid regardless of whether they were postmarked.

“We’re basically acknowledging there could have been some mistake,” Murphy said.

In last month’s primary’s and non-partisan municipal races held in May, some ballots reached election officials without a postmark after election day.

It’s not clear when such ballots were sent, and they were not counted in the previous mostly-vote-by-mail races, meaning some voters were disenfranchised because of a mistake by the U.S. Postal Service.

“Within 48 hours, it’s exceedingly unlikely that the mail would have been placed in the mail after the election. Typically, mail is not stamped and delivered on the same day that it’s mailed,” Murphy chief counsel Matt Platkin said, citing a ruling by a New York judge who allowed late-arriving ballots lacking a postmark to be counted if they were received not long after an election.

The Assembly State and Local Government Committee on Thursday advanced a bill containing the same provision for late-arriving ballots that reach officials within the 48 hours proceeding an election.

Under that proposal, properly-postmarked mail-in ballots would be counted if they received in the six days following an election, instead of the seven days in Murphy’s order.

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