MERCER — Registered voters in Mercer County can now apply for absentee ballots for the May 21 primary.

Applications for absentee ballots are available online through the state’s voting website or at most post offices, municipal buildings, libraries, local state legislators’ offices and the Mercer County Office of Voter Registration and Elections.

The May 21 primary will determine Democratic and Republican nominees for state and county judicial offices, countywide offices, municipal representatives and school board members. Winners in the primaries will run for office in the November general election.

Residents registered under a third party or as independents will be able to vote only in Fairview Township, Lake Township, New Vernon Township and Sheakleyville, where a ballot question will determine whether non-profit entities will be able to operate small games of chance to raise funds.

Aside from those four ballot questions, the primary is open only to Democrats and Republicans.

This year’s primary could be the last time Mercer County residents use the ES&S-manufactured iVotronic machines to cast votes. In March, the county election board recommended adopting paper ballots, counted in each precinct by optical scan devices and ballot marking machines also manufactured by ES&S, based in Omaha, Neb.

County election officials have said they plan to have the new voting system in place for the 2019 general election.

Those planning to cast absentee ballots must either indicate that they will not physically be in their voting district during election hours – from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on May 21 – or are unable to go to a polling location due to a physical disability.

The deadline to apply for an absentee ballot is May 14, and completed ballots must be returned by May 17 to be counted in this year’s election.

Voters can mail absentee ballots or return them in person to the county election department. Voters are allowed to return only their own ballots in person.

Those who have not yet registered have until April 22 to complete their registration to take part in the primary.

Sample ballots for all 100 of Mercer County’s election precincts are on the county’s website.