The Ocean County Board of Commissioners this week rescinded its policy that had required face masks and social distancing in its buildings since last year.
Effective May 28, county offices do not require masking or social distancing, according to the commissioners’ resolution passed at its June 2 meeting.
The original policy was in place since August 2020, in accordance with a Gov. Phil Murphy Executive Order. This week, county commissioners formally rescinded it.
Employees and visitors to county facilities, offices or buildings are not required to wear masks or social distance any longer.
The task of temperature-taking was also relaxed: “be it further resolved that, to the extent permitted by law, any temperature taking equipment may be removed from entrances to County buildings, offices and facilities,” states the resolution.
Many county offices have been off-limits to visitors during portions of the pandemic, as many services were offered remotely or had temporarily closed. Once they began reopening to visitors, buildings had to monitor capacity, take temperatures or waivers, and require masks and social distancing. The June 2 resolution changes that mask-wearing requirement entirely, saying masks are no longer required.
The resolution also changes some access points that have been closed. For example, the side doors of the Ocean County Administration Building will now be open for access to the building.
The rescinded policy is similar to Gov. Murphy’s action around that same time: On Friday May 28, the state mandate of wearing a mask to enter restaurants, stores and other indoor spaces ended, as did 6-foot social distancing requirement in all indoor and outdoor settings. Exceptions still include schools, shelters, and public transportation.
Additionally, the county will once again offer Saturday hours at the County Clerk’s Office – Board of Election, in anticipation of demand ahead of the Tuesday June 8 primary election.
From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, June 5, staff from the County Clerk’s Office and the Board of Elections will assist primary election voters. Consumers can apply for a Vote by Mail ballot, vote and return it to the Board of Election staff that day. These services are offered in person at the Board of Elections Office located in the basement of 129 Hooper Ave., Toms River.
The county commissioners issued a press release to publicize the county clerk and election board activities ahead of the primary:
The Ocean County Clerk and the Board of Elections is offering additional voting opportunities and assistance for those voters who cannot cast their ballot at the polls on Primary Election Day, June 8.
From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, June 5, staff from the County Clerk’s Office and the Board of Elections will assist primary election voters by giving them the opportunity to apply for a Vote by Mail ballot, vote and return it to the Board of Election staff that day. All this takes place at the Board of Elections Office located in the basement of 129 Hooper Ave., Toms River. Free parking is available in the Ocean County Parking Garage adjacent to the Board of Elections office.
“Voters can once again cast their ballots at their local polling places on a voting machine, now that the Governor has rescinded the orders that were in place during the 2020 elections requiring everyone be mailed a Vote by Mail ballot,” said Ocean County Clerk Scott M. Colabella. “Voters need to look closely at their polling place information on the sample ballot as it may have changed due to the pandemic or call the Board of Elections if they are uncertain.”
Colabella said that June 1 was the last day his office could receive through the U.S. mail a Vote by Mail application.
“After that date voters must apply for a Vote by Mail ballot in person. They have until 3 p.m., Monday, June 7 to do so,” he said. “We set aside Saturday, June 5 to give voters the opportunity on a weekend day to vote using a Vote by Mail ballot. They can fill it out and leave it right at the Board of Elections.
“We have been providing this opportunity for a number of years and encourage voters to take advantage of it,” Colabella said.
“I am pleased that we are again voting at our local polling places, and casting a ballot on a voting machine if we choose to do so,” said Ocean County Commissioner Virginia E. Haines, liaison to the Board of Elections. “Voting is a fundamental right. Our County Clerk and Election Board closely work to assist our voters by providing them with the opportunity to cast a ballot even if they can’t get to the polls on Election Day.”
Voters also have the opportunity to apply in person and obtain a Vote by Mail Ballot in the Toms River office of the County Clerk at 118 Washington St., or at the Southern Service Center, 179 South Main St., Manahawkin, until Monday, June 7. The office hours at both sites are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Voters do not need a reason to use the Vote by Mail option in New Jersey.
The deadline for obtaining a Vote by Mail Ballot in person is 3 p.m., Monday, June 7. After 3 p.m. June 7, voters must obtain a court order from a judge allowing them to apply for a Vote by Mail Ballot. The County Clerk’s Election Office is located in the Ocean County Courthouse, Room 107, 118 Washington St., here.
As of May 31, the County Clerk’s Election Office issued a total of 47,379 Vote by Mail Ballots for the upcoming June 8 Primary Election. Of the ballots issued, 17,992 have been issued to registered Republicans; 15,649 ballots have been issued to registered Democrats and 13,738 ballots have been issued to unaffiliated voters. There are 163,472 registered Republican voters in Ocean County, 100,876 registered Democrats, and 180,898 unaffiliated or undeclared voters.
All voters who wish to apply in person for a Vote by Mail Ballot need to sign their name as it appears in the voter registry book. For additional information on obtaining a Vote by Mail Ballot, individuals may contact the County Clerk’s Election Office at (732) 929-2153.
More than 400,000 sample ballots have been mailed in Ocean County providing registered voters with a copy of the official ballot that will appear on voting machines June 8 as well as the polling place location for the 413 County election districts.
Colabella added that a copy of the official sample ballot and polling location addresses for all 33 municipalities are also available at www.oceancountyclerk.com, the County Clerk’s web site or voters can visit www.facebook.com/oceancountyclerk the County Clerk’s Facebook page.