November election in N.J. to be mostly mail-in, Murphy will announce

Posted Aug 13, 2020

November’s elections in New Jersey — which includes the presidential race between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden — will be mostly mail-in as the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect the state, Gov. Phil Murphy is expected to announce Friday, NJ Advance Media has confirmed.

That means all of the state’s 6.2 million registered voters will be sent ballots to vote by mail in the Nov. 3 elections, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation who requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

There will also be a select number of local polling places across the state for people who choose to vote in person, the sources said.

The hybrid setup will be the same as the state’s July primary elections, which were delayed a month and conducted mostly mail-in to help protect against COVID-19. Murphy also delayed a number of local elections earlier in the year and made those races vote-by-mail only.

November’s elections, however, will be a larger undertaking and have more at stake. Not only is the Trump-Biden race topping the ticket, but U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., is running for re-election against Republican Rik Mehta and all 12 of New Jersey’s U.S. House seats are on the ballot. There will also be local races.

Murphy is expected to have more details Friday afternoon at his next coronavirus briefing in Trenton.

NJ Globe was the first to report the news Thursday.

Almost 1.5 million voters cast ballots either in person or by mail in New Jersey’s July primary — a 26% turnout second only to the 1.7 million who voted in 2008, according to the state Division of Elections. It’s also the same percentage as those who voted in 2016, the last year with a presidential race.

About 87% of the votes cast in this year’s primary were via mail.

Despite the pandemic, Trump and other Republicans have railed against allowing widespread mail-in voting in November, warning it could lead to fraud and delayed results. Fraud in mail-in voting is historically rare, according to multiple studies and statistics.

Trump told Fox Business on Thursday that he is opposed to Democratic lawmakers who want $3.6 billion in federal funding and $25 billion to the U.S. Postal Service as part of coronavirus stimulus negotiations.

“If they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting because they’re not equipped to have it,” Trump said, arguing that the 2020 election could lead to “the greatest fraud in history.”

New Jersey has had issues with mail-in voting this year, with some voters receiving the wrong ballots in the mail and some results taking weeks to become official. Though state law usually allows two days for ballots to arrive after Election Day, Murphy extended the runway to seven days for the primary.

Meanwhile, after allegations of voter fraud in the Paterson City Council race in May, state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal filed voting fraud charges against a city councilman and a councilman-elect.

The COVID-19 outbreak in the Garden State has lessened significantly since its mid-April peak. But Murphy on Thursday reported eight more deaths and 699 new cases — the highest one-day total in cases so far this month and only the second time since June 6 that the state reported more than 600 new cases.

New Jersey’s death toll from the virus now stands at 15,892 fatalities — 14,053 confirmed and 1,839 considered probable — in more than five months since the first case was reported March 4.

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