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An early test of New Jersey’s new vote-by-mail law can be seen tonight in five Burlington County municipalities that are in the closely-watched race 8th district State Assembly race.
Election officials anticipate that more than one-third of all vote-by-mail ballots sent to voters for the Rancocas Valley Regional School district referendum will be returned – a huge number for a September vote on a school bond issue that faces no real opposition.
Based on the new VBM law that required the automatic mailing of ballots to anyone who voted by mail in 2016, 2017 or 2018, the Burlington County Clerk mailed 3,137 ballots for today’s election. As of late morning, 976 ballots (31%) were returned.
These numbers offer some empirical verification of claims that voter participation receives a huge bump when ballots – especially in off-off year elections in 2019 – are in the hands of voters.
Several key races across the state could be affected by the new VBM law in what could turn out to be the “Year of the Unlikely Voter.”
Those numbers were expected to increase by the time the polls closed at 8PM. Any mail-in ballots postmarked today will be counted if they arrive at the county Board of Elections by close of business on Thursday.
All five municipalities in the Rancocas district – Easthampton, Hainesport, Lumberton, Mount Holly and Westhampton – are in the 8th district, where Democrats are trying to flip two Assembly seats that the Republicans have held since 1975.
In a controversial special referendum on local water issues in Edison earlier this month, 40% of VBM ballots were returned.