Student Voting Guide | New Jersey

This student voting guide explains the laws for the state of New Jersey.

August 15, 2014

This student voting guide explains the laws for the state of New Jersey. If you wish to vote from your school address, check the student voting guide for the state where you attend school. If you want to cast an absentee ballot in your home state, check the student voting guide for that state.

The Brennan Center is committed to giving students as much information as possible to help you exercise your constitutional right to vote. More than ever in recent history, changes to voting laws are being implemented in ways that can affect your ability to make your vote count. In addition to the content you will find in this Student Voting Guide we continue to track passed and pending voting law changes here. While we are working to give you up-to-date information, we urge you to be proactive! In order to ensure you have all the information you need before casting your vote, you should also check with your state and local election officials for information about additional requirements or regulations.

This voting guide was last updated August 15, 2014.


To register to vote in New Jersey, you must be a United States citizen and at least 18 years old by the next general election.[1] You may register while you are still 17 so long as you will be 18 by the next election.[2] If you have been convicted of a felony, it may impact your ability to vote. If you think you might be affected, you should contact your local election officials.[3]

You may register to vote either in person or by mail.[4] Registration forms are available online here, as well as variety of locations across New Jersey, including: the Division of Elections, local election offices, municipal clerks offices, and DMV offices,  and most state, county, and local social services agencies.[5]

The registration deadline is 21 days before Election Day. New Jersey law does not specify when mailed registration forms must be postmarked or received; it is advisable to mail your form such that it is received 21 days before Election Day.[6]


At School. Students can establish residency in New Jersey if they have a present intention to remain at their New Jersey school address for the time being, and they intend to make it their principal home. Any other interpretation of the residency laws is unconstitutional. New Jersey election officials make clear that “[if] you are in college, you have the option to register from your college address or your parent's address.”[7]

In New Jersey, you can vote from your college address as long as you have lived there for at least 30 days before the election.[8]

At Home. If you lived in New Jersey before moving out of state to attend school, but you wish to establish or keep your New Jersey voting residency (i.e., at your parents’ New Jersey address), you should have no problem doing so unless you have already registered to vote in another state.[9] Like all states, New Jersey allows students to keep their voting residency even if they move out of the county or state to attend school. The only way you will lose this residency is by establishing residency in a new state. While registering to vote in another state is not automatically considered an abandonment of residency in New Jersey, some judges or officials might view it as such. If you have established residency in another state and are moving back to New Jersey with the intent to reside here, you will have to follow the normal registration procedures to re-register at home.

Voting in New Jersey may be considered a declaration of residency, potentially making you subject to other laws that govern state residents.

Challenges to Residency. Students have the right to vote as a resident of New Jersey regardless of your student status or whether you pay in-state or out-of-state tuition. If election officials determine that you have not met New Jersey’s residency requirements, they can deny your registration, but they must notify you of the denial.[10]

In rare instances, your right to vote may be challenged at the polls. This can happen in two ways. First, if election officials find reason to doubt your residency, they may add your name to a “challenge list.”[11] Second, poll workers and partisan challengers can challenge your eligibility to vote at the polls.[12] Remember that any challenge made solely on the basis of your student or tuition status is invalid.

If your right to vote is challenged, you will be asked to establish your eligibility to vote at the polls.[13] You are still entitled to vote if you sign an affidavit and present one of the following forms of identification: (1) a valid New Jersey driver’s license; (2) a sample ballot with your name and current address; (3) an official federal, state, or local government document with your name and current address; (4) a dated utility or telephone bill; (5) a tax or rent receipt; (5) or a piece of mail postmarked to your current address within 60 days of the election.[14]

If the poll workers deny you the right to vote, you can appeal to a judge on Election Day.[15] Your appeal may be made orally and does not require paperwork or a lawyer.[16] If, after a full hearing, the judge finds in your favor, you will be allowed to vote that same day.[17]


Most New Jersey voters do not need to show ID when voting. However, if you are a first-time New Jersey voter who registered by mail, and election officials could not verify your identifying numbers (your New Jersey driver’s license or ID number or the last four digits of your Social Security number), you will have to provide proof of identification, either at the polls or anytime before Election Day.[18]

Sufficient proof of identity includes any current and valid photo ID, or a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, car registration, non-photo driver’s license, rent receipt, sample ballot, utility bill (including cell phone and student housing bills), or other government document that shows the name and address of the voter.[19]

You may also submit a copy of any of these forms of ID with your registration application, or at any time to your local election office.[20] If you are required to show ID and cannot, you can still cast a provisional ballot, but your vote will only be counted if you bring your ID to a county elections office within two days after the election.[21]

Vote by Mail

Any New Jersey voter may vote by mail.[22] You must apply to vote by mail, either in person or by mail. Vote-by-mail ballot applications are available for download here, on the New Jersey Division of Elections website. If you submit your application by mail, the county clerk must receive it at least seven days before the election.[23] You may apply in person at your county clerk’s office until 3 p.m. the day before the election.[24] Once you have filled out your completed mail ballot, you must submit it, either in person or by mail, to the board of elections for your county.[25] The board must receive your ballot by the close of the polls on Election Day.[26]

Last updated August 15, 2014.

[1] N.J. Stat. Ann. § 19:31-5.

[2] N.J. Stat. Ann. § 19:31-5.

[3] N.J. Stat. Ann. § 19:4-1(6)-(8).

[4] N.J. Stat. Ann. § 19:31-6.

[5] N.J. Stat. Ann. § 19:31-6.11(a); N.J. Stat. Ann. § 19:31-6(b); N.J. Stat. Ann. § 19:31-6.3(a); N.J. Stat. Ann. § 19:31-7; see also Voter Registration Information: Where to Register State of N.J. Dep’t of State,

[6] N.J. Stat. Ann. § 19:31-6.

[7] “Voter Registration and Voting for College Students,” State of N.J. Dep’t of State,

[8] N.J. Const. art. II § 1, ¶ 3(a).

[9] N.J. Const. art. II §1, ¶ 3(c).

[10] N.J. Stat. Ann. § 19:31-6.5(b).

[11] N.J. Stat. Ann. § 19:32-10.

[12] N.J. Stat. Ann. § 19:15-18.

[13] N.J. Stat. Ann. § 19:32-10.

[14] N.J. Stat. Ann. § 19:15-18.1(a).

[15] N.J. Stat. Ann. § 19:15-18.3.

[16]  Id.

[17]  Id.

[18] N.J. Stat. Ann. § 19:31-5.

[19] N.J. Stat. Ann. § 19:31-5; see also Voting Information, State of N.J. Dep’t of State

[20] N.J. Stat. Ann. § 19:31-5.

[21] N.J. Stat. Ann. § 19:53C-3(i).

[22] N.J. Stat. Ann. § 19:63-3(a).

[23] N.J. Stat. Ann. § 19:63-3(b),(c), (d);; .N.J. Stat. Ann. § 19:63-5.

[24] N.J. Stat. Ann. § 19:63-3(d).

[25] N.J. Stat. Ann. § 19:63-16(d)(1).

[26]  Id.