Gov. Phil Murphy’s decision to extend runoff elections by one week in Perth Amboy could have a long-term impact on other municipalities, like Jersey City, Hoboken and Hillside next year.
A small number of municipalities that hold non-partisan municipal elections in November require a runoff if no candidate receives 50% of the vote.
As New Jersey moves toward changes to state elections, like early voting and increased vote-by-mail contests, it takes election officials more time to certify election results.
A new law allows an extra six days for mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day to arrive at county election offices. Until this year, it was just 48 hours.
Enhanced vote-by-mail also results in a greater number of provisional, paper ballots that take longer to count.
And New Jersey now sends cure letters to voters whose mail-in ballots are returned with some technical deficiency. Giving voters more time to fix those issues delays the certification of numbers.
At the other end, newly-elected local officials take office on January 1. That limits how far a runoff election can get pushed.
Legal challenges to election results can throw the entire process out of whack.
Among possible changes that two legislators told the New Jersey Globe were under consideration: an extension of reorganization into January, and legislation that would allow non-partisan candidates to raise runoff dollars separately, like partisan candidates do by segregating primary and general election funds.