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2020 Election Profile: New Jersey Voters Will Weigh In On Three Ballot Measures

On Nov. 3, New Jersey voters will be deciding on the presidential race and the U.S. Senate race, along with House of Representative seats and several local elections.

Also on the general election ballot are three questions that would amend the state constitution. Voters will get their say on if the state should legalize marijuana, offer property tax relief to Veterans and delay the redrawing of New Jersey’s legislative districts.

Public Question #1 – Legalize Marijuana

Voters will be asked whether to allow for recreational use of marijuana by people age 21 and up. If approved, marijuana would be taxed and regulated by the same state commission that runs New Jersey’s medical cannabis program.

The measure would charge lawmakers to create and implement regulations to legalize the possession, cultivation, processing, sale and use of cannabis products in New Jersey, and decide the next steps.

Additionally, the state Legislature could authorize municipalities to enact individual ordinances to place an additional local tax on cannabis products on top of a state sales tax.

Although New Jersey seemed poised last year to legalize recreational marijuana use—a proposal that had support from Gov. Phil Murphy and several Democratic lawmakers—it failed to pass and legislators agreed to put the issue before voters.

Public Question #2 – Property Tax Relief For All Veterans

The second questions New Jerseyans will vote on is should the state extend property tax deductions to Veterans who did not serve in wartime.

Currently, property tax deductions only apply to veterans who served during wartime. The state recently approved signed legislation to exclude combat pay from gross taxable income under the New Jersey income tax. New Jersey is the only state currently taxing combat pay, which is also untaxed by the federal government. 

If the referendum is approved, veterans, along with their widows or widowers, who served during peacetime would receive a $250 tax deduction. Veterans who became permanently disabled during peacetime military service would get a 100% exemption.

Public Question #3 – Delayed State Legislative Redistricting

Voters will be asked whether to delay the redrawing of New Jersey’s legislative districts if population data collected during this year’s U.S. Census is delayed.

If approved, New Jersey would delay redistricting—which is done every decade following the Census count—for two years.

Under state law, New Jersey is required to adopt a legislative redistricting plan within a month of getting its census data.

According to federal law, the U.S. Census Bureau is required to do that by April 1,2021. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Census Bureau has asked Congress to extend the deadline to July 31, 2021. If that happens, New Jersey would not be able to redraw districts for the June 2021 primary.

A “yes” vote would give the state permission to postpone redistricting until after the 2021 election if New Jersey receives its census data after Feb. 15, 2021, allowing legislators to run for two-year terms in their existing districts.

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