November General Election Will Be ‘Overwhelmingly’ Vote-by-Mail in NJ
Posted on August 14, 2020 by Brenda Flanagan of NJTV
Reprinted with permission from NJTV News. ©2020 Public Media NJ, Inc.
Gov. Phil Murphy orders millions of ballots mailed to voters by Oct. 5. County clerks are worried about voter education, postal problems
“The November third general election will be held, overwhelmingly, through vote-by-mail,” Gov. Phil Murphy announced Friday. The governor has ordered 6.2 million New Jersey ballots, featuring Trump versus Biden, Booker against Mehta, all dozen congressional contests and a question on recreational marijuana to be mailed to voters statewide by Oct. 5. It’s a repeat of New Jersey’s pandemic-driven vote-by-mail hybrid primary election in July that reserved polling places mainly for people with disabilities and provisional voters.
“Results here and across our nation showed that making it easier to vote does not favor any one political party, but it does favor democracy. Ensuring that every voter has the ability to securely cast their ballot, while protecting public health, is our paramount concern. The recent primary primary election gave us the opportunity to see what worked and where we could make improvements to this kind of election,” he said.
Murphy said each county must open at least half of all polling places and voters will be allowed to submit their completed mail-in ballots there. The state will provide more ballot drop boxes. To count, ballots delivered by the U.S. Postal Service must be postmarked by Nov. 3 and arrive no later than 8 PM a week after Election Day.
County clerks cringed. “I anticipate many voters will be angry,” said Monmouth County Clerk Christine Hanlon, who expects a deluge of complaints. She fears the state will, once again, fail to launch the media blitz needed to properly educate voters.
“One of the things I’m concerned about happening is that voters are going to be surprised and voters are going to be very concerned about the process.” Hanlon is also confronting an avalanche of 440,000 paper ballots, plus envelopes and inserts. She will probably turn to an outside mail house for help.
So will Mercer County Clerk Paula Sollami-Covello, who is worried about the U.S. Postal Service meeting deadlines. “We are concerned because we rely on the Post Office and the mail to make vote-by-mail happen. And without it working properly or quickly, it’s going to impact our ability to run the election in a smooth manner.”
That’s because the US Postal Service currently faces a crippling assault from President Trump, who has blocked an extra $3.5 billion in funding over largely unsubstantiated claims that mail-in voting is plagued by election fraud. “Universal mail-ins that are just sent all over the place, where people can grab them and grab stacks of them and sign them and do whatever you want, that’s the thing we’re against,” he has said.
Republican opposition to vote-by-mail isn’t confined to the president. Freeholder boards in Ocean, Monmouth and Morris counties have all passed non-binding resolutions turning thumbs-down on a vote-by-mail election; they want a COVID-safe in-person voting option.
Morris County Freeholder Deborah Smith said, “There’s been voter fraud. We had the truck, in was it Morris Plains, that went on fire that burned up the ballots — and people’s confusion. So I think the real key is let people choose.”
“The primary was a disaster,” said Bergen County Republican Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi, who calls Murphy’s executive order more politically- than pandemic-driven. “I believe he’s doing this strictly as the co-chair of the DNC. I don’t believe that this is tied to data determining dates or any other catchphrases he loves to put forth each day in his daily pressers. And I think it is going to result in voter suppression.”
Analysts say vote-by-mail does favor a particular party: the one with the most registered voters.
Ben Dworkin, director of the Rowan Institute for Public Policy & Citizenship, said, “So in Alabama, vote by mail is going to help Republicans. And in New Jersey where we now have more than one million registered Democrats than registered Republicans in this state, it’s going to probably help Democrats, simply because there’s more of them!”
This article was originally published by NJTV/NJ Spotlight at https://www.njspotlight.com/news/november-general-election-will-be-overwhelmingly-vote-by-mail-in-nj/