Monday, October 20th, 2014

PolitiFact New Jersey’s Guide to Voting on Election Day

With alternate polling places and other changes, New Jersey is facing a general election amid the property damage and power outages left behind by Hurricane Sandy.
With alternate polling places and other changes, New Jersey is facing a general election amid the property damage and power outages left behind by Hurricane Sandy.

As New Jersey continues to recover from the damage wrought by Hurricane Sandy -- and braces for a possible nor’easter this week -- Garden State residents will head to the polls today to cast ballots for President, U.S. Senate, and other races.

But the most basic question may not be which candidates they’re supporting, but instead: where are they going to vote?

With Hurricane Sandy knocking out hundreds of polling places and leaving thousands of residents still without power, state officials have provided different options for displaced residents and emergency responders to vote, including via e-mail or fax.

A text message service also is in place to direct voters to their polling places. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

In addition to the presidential election, New Jerseyans are facing decisions on a U.S. Senate seat and 12 House seats. Also, there are two public questions on today’s ballot, including a request to borrow $750 million for capital improvements at colleges and universities.

We’ll get to the candidates and those questions later, but first, let’s explain where and how you can vote today.

Where do I vote?

As of Monday morning, most of the more than 800 polling places knocked out by the storm were either repaired or alternate sites had been found for them, according to Ernest Landante, a spokesman for Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno. In less than 100 cases, polling locations were not operational and no alternate sites had been found yet, Landante told us.

Here is a county-by-county list of polling location changes, as compiled by the Star-Ledger staff.

To find your polling place, you can text the word "where" to 877877, and you will receive a reply message asking for your home address. After you text back your address, you will receive a final message listing your polling location.

You also can use this Google feature: type in the address where you’re registered to vote, and it will provide your polling place and a summary of the ballot at that location.

The state has directed county officials to take various steps to inform voters of polling locations, including providing information on county websites; requesting all radio stations within the county’s listening area to announce changes in polling locations; and, when possible, post information at the unavailable polling locations about the alternate sites.

Vote by email or fax

First responders and residents displaced by the storm also can cast ballots via e-mail or fax.

Here’s how it works:

-- By e-mail or fax, send a mail-in ballot application to the county clerk in the county where you live. County clerks will accept such applications until 5 p.m. today. Here is a list of those officials in each county.

-- Once the county clerk determines the applicant is a qualified voter, the county clerk will send the ballot and the waiver of secrecy form to the voter by either e-mail or fax, depending on which method the voter requested.

-- The voter must return the signed waiver of secrecy form and the completed ballot by either e-mail or fax to the applicable county board of elections by 8 tonight.

Vote at any polling place

In addition to voting by e-mail or fax, displaced voters also may vote by provisional ballot at any polling place in the state.

But keep this in mind: unlike voting by e-mail or fax, people voting by provisional ballot can only vote on candidates for the offices of President and U.S. Senate, and the two statewide ballot questions.

So, if you’re looking to vote for local races or questions, you can’t do it by provisional ballot.

Who’s running?

At the top of their respective tickets are President Barack Obama, a Democrat, and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney.

To view all fact-checks of statements by Obama, check out his Truth-O-Meter file here. You also can check out whether Obama has kept his 2008 campaign promises in this story from our PolitiFact National colleagues.

All of the fact-checks of Mitt Romney’s claims can be found here.

In New Jersey, the highest-profile race is between Democratic U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez and his GOP challenger, state Sen. Joe Kyrillos. Recently, we revisited several fact-checks of claims made by Menendez and Kyrillos during their debates.

You can review every fact-check on Menendez claims here, and on Kyrillos claims here.

PolitiFact New Jersey also has fact-checked claims made in a few House races, including the battle in south Jersey between Republican Congressman Jon Runyan and Democratic candidate Shelley Adler.

For an overview of claims made in that contest and other House races, check out this recent story.

Ballot questions

New Jersey voters also must decide whether to vote yes or no on two statewide ballot questions.

The first question concerns whether the state may borrow $750 million to provide matching grants to New Jersey’s colleges and universities.

In regard to that ballot question, PolitiFact New Jersey issued a False ruling in late October on a claim by Republican state Sen. Tom Kean Jr., who said New Jersey was the only state to spend less on higher education at the end of the last decade than at the beginning.

The second question on the ballot would amend the state constitution and allow for the reduction in judges’ salaries to pay for their pension and health care benefits.

We have issued two True rulings on claims related to the judicial pension system from Gov. Chris Christie and Democratic state Sen. Shirley Turner.