SOMERVILLE, NJ - The COVID-19 pandemic has delayed New Jersey's traditional June Primary Election by one month and will dramatically impact how this year's vote will be handled by individual towns and the Somerset County Board of Elections.
Tuesday, July 7th is Primary Day, but very few people will be going to the polls, because most polling places have been shut down to minimize close personal contact as per Gov. Phil Murphy's Executive Order of May 15.
Instead, mail-in ballots have replaced the traditional in-person voting, with the bulk of the mail-in ballots already returned by voters.
Final results, usually available within 24 hours, won't be known for at least 7-10 days, according to Somerset County Clerk Steve Peter, because of the additional time necessary to count all the mail-in ballots.
"Ballots can be received up until seven days after polling is closed, so it is likely we won't have any numbers out until after July 14th," Peter said.
Presidential, US Senate, Congressional, and local, county, and state candidates are listed on the Primary ballots which were mailed to both Republican and Democratic voters; independent voters were mailed an application to fill out if they chose to vote in the Primary.
The Executive Order directed the following:
- Registered, active Democrats and Republicans would be mailed ballots automatically;
- Unaffiliated and Inactive voters would be mailed a special application to fill out if they wanted to receive a ballot for the July 7th Primary;
- A limited number of polling place are allowed to be open on Election Day where only provisional paper ballots will be available to cast a vote. Voters who need an accessible ballot may call the County Clerk’s Office or go to their assigned polling place where there will be an accessible voting device on Primary Election Day.
- Polls are to be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m
- A sample ballot is to be posted at each polling place. Sample ballots were not mailed out.
- Voters who receive a Vote-by-Mail ballot are encouraged to vote and mail their ballot to the Somerset County Board of Elections in the postage paid envelope. Ballots returned by mail must be postmarked no later than 8 p.m. on July 7, 2020.
- Ballots may also be placed in one of five secure Election Ballot Drop Boxes located throughout the County. The deadline for placing it in one of the secure drop boxes or for delivering your ballot in person to the Somerset County Board of Elections is 8 p.m. on July 7, 2020.
- Drop boxes are located at the Somerset County Administration Building, 20 Grove St., Somerville, and at the municipal buildings in Bernards Township, Bridgewater, Franklin and Hillsborough.
On average, Somerville usually sees a turnout of 8-10 percent of the registered voters, according to Kevin Sluka, borough clerk, although the number of those who vote usually is higher in Presidential election years.
Somerville normally has nine polling places for voters; because of this year's unique circumstances, there will only be two:
The Lincoln Hose Company fire house, 34 Warren St. and the West End Hose fire house, 133 W. High St., according to Sluka.
Candidates for office from both parties include:
Somerville Borough Council:
In Somerville, Borough Council incumbents Granville Brady and Fred Weid V are running unopposed on the Democratic ballot; the lone Republican Borough Council candidate is Hank Werner, with Jason Kraska expected to be a popular write-in candidate as the second candidate.
Somerset County Freeholders:
Running unopposed are incumbent Republican Freeholders Brian Levine and Brian Gallagher. The Democratic candidates for Freeholder are also running unopposed, Douglas Singleterry of North Plainfield and Paul Drake of Hillsborough.
Somerset County Surrogate:
Republican incumbent Frank Bruno is running unopposed. The lone Democratic candidate for Surrogate is Bernice Jalloh of Franklin Park
7th Congressional District:
Democratic incumbent Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-7th) is running unopposed. Three Republicans are running in the GOP Primary: State Senate Minority Leader Thomas H. Kean, Jr., son of the former governor; Tom Phillips of Scotch Plains and Raafat Barsoom of Annandale.
United States Senate:
Sen. Corey Booker, (D-NJ), the incumbent is being challenged by Lawrence Hall of Montclair in the Democratic Primary, with five Republican candidates seeking the GOP nomination to run against the winner of the Democratic Primary in November: :Patricia Flanagan of Lawrenceville; Natalie Lynn Rivera of Merchantville; Hirsh Singh of Linwood; Rikin Mehta of Chester and Eugene Anagnos of East Hanover.
President Donald Trump is running unopposed in the Republican Primary; Democratic voters will choose between former vice president Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Questions can be directed to the Somerset County Clerk’s Office at 908-231-7013 or the County Board of Elections at 908-231-7084.