2020 presented major challenges, not only to the County Clerk’s Office, but to the nation as a whole. The COVID-19 pandemic left lasting effects on the public health and economy of our nation, however despite the challenges we face, we are adapting and we will persevere, just as we have in the past.
The Morris County Clerk’s Office has a wider scope than most other offices in County Government. The County Clerk’s office issues passports as well as Senior and Veteran I.D. Cards, stores military discharge records of veterans, administers the oath of office to all Notaries Public, records the trade name certificates of all non-incorporated businesses and officiates marriage ceremonies. Due to the fact that our office provides a wide array of public services, the County Clerk’s Office typically interacts with residents in person more than other offices. This presented the unique challenge of continuing to provide services during the pandemic while also ensuring the health and safety of Morris County residents and staff. The County Clerk’s office installed barriers between employees and the public in every office, secured compressive PPE for our employees and invested in technology in order to provide work from home opportunities and staggered schedules in our larger departments to limit exposure. The County Clerk’s Office also modified the services we provide to ‘by appointment only’ in order to comply with social distance mandates.
While our office modified services during the pandemic, Governor Murphy signed Executive Order No. 172, which mandated that the 2020 Primary and General Election be conducted primarily through vote by mail ballots. Our office hand stuffed and mailed close to 400,000 ballots prior to the June Primary Election as well as 230,000 ballots before the November General Election. All employees from every department in the County Clerk’s office worked extended shifts during the week and weekends in order to ensure that every registered voter received a ballot. Our Elections Department fielded thousands of phone calls every day leading up to election day, informing voters on how to get registered and assisting residents with any issues they had with their ballots. Through their hard work and dedication, the Morris County Clerk’s Office administered a successful and transparent election without missing a deadline.
The costs associated with conducting an election primarily through mail in ballots was substantial, however our office secured $211,389 in grants that will be spent on election related costs. Despite the economic impact the pandemic had on the nation, our office recorded 12,237 deeds, 58,029 mortgages, 235 trade name certificates with a total of 99,269 documents recorded. Our office also generated more than $60,000,000 in recording fees. Of that, more than $10,000,000 went to the County for tax relief, with the remainder going to the State of New Jersey.
In 2021, the Morris County Clerk’s Office is looking forward to launch innovative technological upgrades in order to streamline services. Some of which are online scheduling services for Notary, Passport and our Records Room, as well as expanding our outreach with Morris County constituents by implementing email and mobile text updates. Our office is also looking forward to launching the Morris County Clerk mobile app, where Morris County Residents can check their voter registration, register to vote, view live election results and many more services, all from the convenience of their smartphone.
Morris County Clerk Ann Grossi states “As we enter 2021, my office is more prepared than ever to meet the needs of Morris County residents and will continue to make our services as accessible as possible while still dealing with the ramifications of a global pandemic.”