New Jersey’s secretary of state is warning voters against casting multiple ballots in the coming election after President Donald Trump urged North Carolinians to do just that.
“New Jersey state law says ‘any person who votes more than once at any one election” has committed a crime that is punishable by up to 5 years incarceration and a $15,000 fine,” Secretary of State Tahesha Way said. “Further, willfully depriving the residents of New Jersey of a fair and impartially conducted election by knowingly casting a fraudulent ballot is a crime punishable by up to 10 years incarceration and a $150,000 fine.”
In an apparent bid to delegitimize mail-in voting, Trump on Wednesday urged Tar Heel State residents to vote by mail and by paper ballot. He made the same call in Pennsylvania Thursday.
“These mail-in ballots are a disgrace, and they know it. Sign your mail-in ballot. Sign it and send it in and then you have to follow it. And if on Election Day or early voting, that is not tabulated and counted, you go vote,” Trump said in Pennsylvania.
It is illegal to vote twice or induce someone to vote twice under state and federal law.
“Casting more than one ballot is a crime that undermines our free and fair elections,” Way said. “No voter should commit an election crime to ‘test’ our system, because the system works and they will get caught.”
Way did not specifically mention Trump in her statement.
Warnings of mail-in voting fraud are largely unfounded, and New Jersey has safeguards in place to prevent a voter from casting more than one ballot.
If a voter was to send in more than one mail-in ballot, the Statewide Voter Registration System would prevent election officials from processing or counting the second ballot.
In the same way, a voter who casts a provisional ballot after voting by mail would have the provisional ballot rejected.
“County Boards of Elections maintain a list of all voters who cast a vote by mail ballot. As provisional ballots are processed, the names of those voters are checked against the list of voters who cast vote by mail ballots,” State Department spokeswoman Alicia D’Alessandro said. “Any voter who already cast a ballot by mail will not have a provisional ballot counted.”
Every active registered New Jersey voter will receive a mail-in ballot with prepaid postage for the general election. Those ballots can be sent to county clerks, dropped off at a polling place on election day or deposited in a number of secure ballot drop boxes located in each county.
Voters who wish to cast their ballot in person can do so by filling a provisional ballot.
New Jersey’s election officials aren’t concerned that the scale of this year’s races—more than 5.7 million state residents will receive a mail-in ballot for the general election—will strain their ability to weed out voters who try to cast more than one ballot.
“The procedure is simply comparing two lists of voters and seeing if there is any overlap,” D’Alessandro said. “To the extent that you could ‘stress test’ that procedure, county Boards of Elections and superintendents have been doing this regularly for every election with vote by mail and provisional ballots, both prior to the pandemic and during the July primary.”