December 13, 2019 | Number of The Day
Percent of New Jerseyans who used mail-in ballots in November elections

Of the more than 1.6 million New Jerseyans who voted last month, 16.7% used mail-in ballots, according to the New Jersey Division of Elections.

The state posted an updated vote-by-mail report Thursday that showed this year’s so-called VBM turnout set a new record high for the proportion of voters using mail-in ballots in a general election.

According to the report, 270,678 voters utilized a mail-in ballot for this year’s elections, which featured the Assembly at the top of the ticket. While that’s a smaller number than the more than 400,000 who voted by mail in the 2018 general election, it represents a higher percentage of all ballots cast — 16.7% last month compared with 12.3% in 2018.

Still, VBMs represented an even greater proportion of votes in this year’s June primary — 22.7%, or about 111,000, of all ballots cast were by mail. The total votes were less than 500,000. That 22.7% is the highest VBM percentage recorded since the state changed from an absentee ballot, used when a person was away or unable to get to the polls, to a system where anyone could use a mail-in ballot.

Voting by mail has become more popular over recent years, particularly after Democrats passed and Gov. Phil Murphy signed laws mandating that county clerks automatically send mail-in ballots to people who had used them in the past unless they asked not to receive them. The future of that effort is in doubt, however, as the state Council on Local Mandates last month determined they were unfunded mandates and voided them.

The election report shows wide variations in the adoption of VBMs within counties. Camden County, which has long encouraged mail-in ballot use, had the highest rate, with more than a third of all voters using VBM. The lowest percentage was in Hudson County, where fewer than one in 10 voters cast a mail-in ballot.