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Alabama man mailed unsolicited New Jersey ballot; No voter ID, witness needed to return

Universal vote by mail does indeed seem to have some significant shortfalls when it comes to the potential for voter fraud and degrading the integrity of the balloting process.

Yellowhammer News on Wednesday received a photograph of official election mail from the Somerset County, NJ, clerk; the envelope says an “official ballot” is enclosed from the State of New Jersey.

That ballot was mailed to an individual, whom Yellowhammer News has chosen not to identify for privacy reasons. The address the ballot was mailed to is non-residential: The UPS Store located on Ross Clark Circle in Dothan, Alabama. That store offers mail/package boxes for rent. The election mail did not list a box number on it, and it appears the USPS placed it in the wrong box upon delivery — a box whose owner has the same initials as the named recipient on the election mail.

The person whose box the mail was mistakenly placed in could have easily opened the envelope, filled out the ballot and returned it. New Jersey law does not require voter ID or signatures of witnesses for mail-in ballots.

Name blurred out by Yellowhammer News (Special to YHN)

There is no telling how widespread this type of issue could be. New Jersey, according to its secretary of state, is sending out a ballot via mail to “every active registered voter… at the address the voter is registered.” No request or application is necessary.

All ballots were mailed “no later” than October 5.

Yellowhammer News dug into public records on the person to whom the New Jersey ballot was addressed. This individual is officially a registered active voter in Houston County, Alabama. The person first registered to vote in the Yellowhammer State in September 2012; the Alabama secretary of state’s public voter file shows that the individual voted in Alabama during the presidential general elections in 2012 and 2016, as well as the special U.S. senatorial general election in 2017 and the gubernatorial general election in 2018. The individual continues to reside in Dothan.

The seat of Somerset County, NJ, is more than 1,000 miles away from Dothan. This individual, according to the office of the New Jersey secretary of state, is still listed as an active voter in the Garden State after registering in November 2002.

New Jersey has already faced national scrutiny over its vote by mail system, as a USPS employee was recently arrested for allegedly dumping general election ballots and other election mail. The campaign of President Donald J. Trump has sued the State of New Jersey over its vote by mail procedure.

In contrast, Alabama’s absentee vote by mail process features safeguards to ensure the integrity of its process. In our state, voters must apply for an absentee ballot with a photocopy of a valid voter ID. After a successful application, a voter must get the signature of two witnesses or a notary to return an absentee ballot by mail. This statutory process was kept in place for the November 3 election by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, despite a challenge by groups such as the NAACP and SPLC.

Learn more about Alabama’s absentee voting here.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

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