TRENTON, NJ – The Nov. 3 general election will be held overwhelmingly via a vote-by-mail model as per an executive order forthcoming from Gov. Phil Murphy, who says it is the safest way to ensure the voting process during the COVID-19 pandemic.
All registered New Jersey voters will receive prepaid return postage vote-by-mail ballots during the first week of October. The ballots may be mailed back, deposited in designated drop boxes, or handed to poll workers in person on Nov. 3. There will be in-person polls open for the Nov. 3 Election. Each municipality will be required to open at least one in-person polling site. All counties must ensure that at least 50% of their total polling places are open. Any voter who chooses to cast their vote in-person will do so on a provisional ballot. All individuals with disabilities will have access to an ADA-conforming voting machine.
The governor’s announcement comes at a time when President Trump has expressed his opposition to supplementary funding for the U.S. Postal Service, which has been financially devastated by the ongoing pandemic. Murphy said at Friday’s COVID-19 briefing he is hopeful that cooler heads will prevail, and the postal service will be funded and running smoothly by election day.
“The politicization of the postal service is beyond repugnant,” Murphy said. “Let’s not play with fire here. The postal service, let me give just one example, we rely on the postal service for seniors to receive their medicines. So, with all due respect to politicized ballots, we rely as a country on the postal service for a whole range of things.”
Murphy moved to diffuse a reporter’s question of whether Friday’s announcement would put him on a collision course with Trump after the governor has taken a diplomatic approach to asking the president for federal aid, personal protection equipment (PPE), and other items during the pandemic. While his New York counterpart, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, has repeatedly taken Trump to task over his handling of the pandemic, Murphy has turned down opportunities to criticize the president.
However, Friday’s announcement puts him in diametric opposition to Trump.
The President doesn’t seem inclined to act upon top Democrats’ recent calls for a $25 billion lifeline to help the mail service.
"They need that money in order to have the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots," Trump said on Fox Business Network yesterday.
He added if they don't get the funds, "that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting because they’re not equipped to have it."
Trump has also repeatedly pointed to the fallout of the June election in Paterson as a reason to eschew vote-by-mail elections for in-person ones.
State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has charged Paterson Councilman Michael Jackson, Councilman-elect Alex Mendez, and two other men with voter fraud and other crimes after hundreds of mail-in ballots were discovered stuffed in a Paterson mailbox. However, Murphy referred to the Paterson situation as a positive data point.
“Law enforcement is all over it,” he said. “People have been indicted. If you screw around with voting, whether it’s vote by mail or another way, you’re going to be caught and you’re going to be held accountable.”
Tehesha Way, the New Jersey Secretary of State, said that state residents who don’t receive a ballot by the second week in October should call the state’s voter protection hotline at 877-844-3010.
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