Ballot counting underway in New Jersey, National Guard assisting county election workers

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Saturday, October 31, 2020
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County elections offices in New Jersey are busy counting mail-in ballots, with more than three million already cast in the Garden State.

TRENTON, New Jersey (WPVI) -- County elections offices in New Jersey are busy counting mail-in ballots, with more than three million already cast in the Garden State.

Governor Phil Murphy tweeted Friday that is 80% of the total turnout in 2016.

The building being used by the Mercer County Board of Elections in Ewing Township for ballot processing is not their normal facility.

The county moved the effort into a larger facility to handle the unprecedented number of mail-in ballots and to allow for social distancing.

"I usually go into a polling place. I'm fine with the mail-in," said John Robinson of Ewing Township.

Some opted to walk their ballot inside and hand it in, like Dora Harris of Trenton.

"This way I feel more confident that my ballot is going to get through, than putting it in a dropbox," said Harris.

RELATED: Election 2020: Ballot counting is underway in New Jersey

The ballots are brought inside the building where they are time-stamped, checked for a signature match, separated, and scanned into the computer system that tallies the results, which will not be published until after the polls close.

With 230,000 ballots mailed to registered voters in Mercer County, election officials say it is a lot more work compared with a typical election.

"It's absolutely very different from any other election. We're talking historical proportions here," said Anthony Conti, a commissioner with the Mercer County Board of Elections.

With dozens of workers tasked with processing ballots, they moved into a new building, making use of a gymnasium. They even set up tents outside to keep groups of workers separated and distant from one another.

They're also using the New Jersey National Guard. Six members in plainclothes are working alongside county employees, as they did with the primary election which was also mostly mail-in.

"They're actually helping us vet the signatures on the ballot itself, matching it up with the state voter registration system," said Conti. "And if there's an issue, (the ballots are) marked and sent over to the commissioners for review."

The elections commissioner encourages anyone sitting on a mail-in ballot to drop it off soon.

We found Cynthia Fulford of Ewing dropping hers off early so she can focus on other Election Day duties.

"I'm also working the polls this Tuesday because I think it's important that everyone has an opportunity to have their voice heard," said Fulford.

While you can vote in person on Election Day in New Jersey, only those with disabilities will be allowed to vote with a machine.

Everyone else will be handed a paper, provisional ballot.

Mercer County officials say those provisional ballots must be cross-checked to make sure people haven't voted twice. So it could take another week or two before those results are recorded.