Trump campaign’s amended complaint claims law codifying Murphy election order unconstitutional

By Nikita BiryukovSeptember 11 2020

New Jersey Globe

President Donald Trump in Wildwood, New Jersey on January 28, 2020

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President Donald Trump filed an amended suit seeking to invalidate a law codifying Gov. Phil Murphy’s order mandating a primarily vote-by-mail general election Friday, a continuation of his bid to tamp down on early voting here.

The amended complaint targets a bill hastily passed after Trump’s campaign, the Republican National Committee and the Republican State Committee claimed Murphy’s order was unconstitutional because the power to change the state’s election rested with the legislature.

The new filing seeks a permanent injunction blocking Secretary of State Tahesha Way from implementing the changes and a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to stop the order while the suit proceeds.

Then, as now, the Republican suit with little evidence claims universal mail-in voting would leave the state’s races wide open to widespread fraud. Five states regularly hold all-mail elections.

Further, the suit claims the enabling legislation violates federal law because it allows election officials to begin canvassing votes 10 days before election day and permits voters to cast ballots after election day.

According to the suit, those measures conflicts with federal statutes mandating a uniform election day by extending it in both directions.

Murphy has said the bill allows early counting to ensure election results are delivered before the Electoral College meets in December.

The bill also allows mail-in ballots received within 48 hours of the close of polls to be counted regardless of whether or not they bear a postmark.

In mostly-mail voting races held in March and June, some ballots lacking a postmark reached election officials within the grace period for late-arriving ballots. The measure was passed to ensure voters were not disenfranchised because of a mistake by the U.S. Postal Service.

As before, the suit the suit points to voter fraud in Paterson’s March non-partisan municipal election to claim other races would also fall victim to fraud.

Paterson’s election was mired in controversy.  Four men, including two winners in council races, have been charged with ballot tampering by the state attorney general, and a judge blocked a councilman-elect, Alex Mendez, from taking his seat and later ordered a new election.

Murphy said the saga was an example of the system working. The alleged offenders, he said, were identified and charged.

State Sen. Mike Testa (R-Vineland) is serving as counsel for the plaintiffs.

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