The state’s primary election set for July 7 will be a combination of vote-by-mail and in-person, Gov. Phil Murphy announced May 15.
Registered voters would automatically receive a vote-by-mail application ahead of the election. Independent voters wanting to vote in the primary will receive applications to register for either party and then receive the ballot of their party choice.
In-person polling stations will be available in each municipality on July 7, with social distancing and frequent cleaning protocols required at polling locations.
“No one should have to choose between their health and exercising their right to vote,” said Murphy. “We will ensure every vote is counted.”
Additionally, the deadline by which votes must be received by a county Board of Elections to be counted as valid will be extended from 48 hours after to seven days after polls close. The postmark for mail-in ballots remains unchanged, July 7.
The decision comes days after the state’s May 12 election was exclusively by mail. Issues around some elections—more than 30 municipal and school board races were held—included reports of voting irregularities and voters not receiving their ballots, especially in urban areas.
Issues to be Addressed
Murphy said he addressed those and other concerns with United States Post Office officials and agreed they would work together to irony out any issues that have arisen.
The July 7 primary elections was originally scheduled for June 2 but was pushed back due to concerns about the coronavirus. The primary will feature ballots being cast for presidential, senate, house of representatives and local candidates.
In the 5th district, Rep. Josh Gottheimer will be opposed by Democrat Arati Kreibich, a councilwoman from Glen Rock, while five Republicans filed to run for that seat, including former Cresskill Councilman John McCann, and investment banker Frank Pallotta.
Rep. Mikie Sherrill will not face a primary challenge in New Jersey’s 11th congressional district. Sherrill will be challenged in the general election by Republican Rosemary Becchi, who is running unopposed as well in the primary.
Rep. Albio Sires (D-8) is being challenged by two candidates in his district— Union City resident Hector Oseguera and Will Sheehan of Bayonne—with Jason Mushnick the only Republican to file paperwork for the primary. Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (D-10) will be on the primary ballot with three other candidates from his party and Jennifer Zinone and Michael Barrett submitted GOP nominating petitions to be on the ballot.
Veteran lawmaker Rep. Bill Pascrell will encounter two primary challengers, Tenafly resident Zina Spezakis and Alp Basaran of Fort Lee. Two Republicans will vie for the seat, as Ramsey resident Timothy Walsh will face off against Paterson native Billy Prepeh in the primary.
For the Senate seat to be defended by Cory Booker, he will face off with Lawrence Hamm, chairman of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ New Jersey presidential campaign, in seeking the Democratic line in November. GOP candidates vying for that party’s nomination include Morris County resident Rik Mehta, Natalie Rivera, Hirsh Singh and Tricia Flanagan.
Why are independent voters being treated differently than Rep.- and Dem.-affiliated voters? I was originally told that Bergen County would mail all unaffiliated registered voters BOTH ballots, and accept the one returned, as the closest analogy of what happens at polling places for every primary election—walk in unaffiliated, tell the poll worker in which primary you want to vote, and the act of signing in and voting automatically affiliates the voter with that party.
Why can we not have that same ease of voting this year? What will happen when unaffiliated voters show up at polls? Should they not have the same range of options with equal ease as party-affiliated voters?