Voting concerns: What to do if you receive a mail-in ballot for a deceased loved one

With just 34 days to go until the presidential election, thousands of New Jersey voters are getting their mail-in ballots filled out.
But many families may also find themselves receiving an election ballot for a loved one who recently died and they may be wondering what to do what those ballots.
Anna Sardo, 82, says she was surprised to receive a ballot addressed to her husband Anthony because he has died nearly three years ago. She says that she didn’t know what to do with it.
“I called my daughter and told her, ‘I got one for Papi,’” says Sardo.
Sardo’s daughters Maria Sardo and Donna Perna say that they were surprised to find out that their father was still listed as a registered voter. No one had told the Board of Elections that he was deceased.
“I just told my mother she should mail it back and she should call and say my father is deceased,” Maria says.
The Sardos will not be the only family dealing with this issue this election. Over 14,000 New Jersey residents have died in the last six months from COVID-19 and election officials may not be aware that they have died.
The Board of Elections says that people who receive ballots for deceased loved ones should mail them back, unopened, with a note saying that the person has died.
Officials also remind people that forging a name on a ballot is a felony and that the Board of Elections will be cross-referencing all ballots with the signatures on file.
But despite these safeguards, the Sardos say that they were bothered by how this could potentially lead to fraud.
Perna says that she was especially concerned and told her mother, “How is this voting going to be right if it’s being mailed to dead people?”
The Sardos say that this is another reason why New Jersey should open the polls to in-person voting on Election Day and do away with mail-in ballots. New Jersey is going with a mostly-by-mail election because of COVID-19 concerns.
“I think the polls should be open and people should be going,” says Maria Sardo. “Even my mother, she’s disabled. She has diabetes, two stents. She’d rather go to the polls.”
Polling locations will be open throughout New Jersey on Election Day. Voters can drop off their mail-in ballots at the polling locations or fill out a provisional ballot and turn it in.