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Turnout in 2020 N.J. primary was 2nd highest in state history

Over 1.48 million ballots cast; more than 1.45 million counted

By David Wildstein, July 28 2020 10:21 am

Voter turnout of the 2020 New Jersey primary election is at 24%, according to preliminary numbers obtained from the New Jersey Division of Elections.

That means turnout will exceed the 2016 primary and is the second highest voter turnout in state primary election history.  Not all counties have issued final vote totals and these numbers could change.

Election officials issued 3,751,489 ballots for the July 7 primary election – a number close to the combined totals of registered Democrats and Republicans in the state.

So far, 1,286,353 of those ballots have been reported as returned and cast in a primary that was conducted almost entirely through vote-by-mail ballots.   Lightly more than 1/3 of New Jersey voters (35%) who received a ballot voted in the primary election.

A total of 27,627 ballots statewide were rejected for indeterminate deficiencies – about 2% of the total cast.

An additional 166,183 votes were cast through provisional paper ballots.  Of those, 4,197 – about 2% – were rejected by county election boards.

The provisional ballots bring the total voter turnout so far to 1,480,163 ballots cast and 1,452,536 ballots counted.

To be clear, 39% of New Jerseyans registered as Democrats or Republicans voted in the July 7 primary; the total was 38% without rejected ballots.

These totals also do not reflect an undetermined number of machine votes that were cast by voters requiring special assistance.

Several counties have still not certified their primary results.

Only four other primary elections have attracted more than one million votes: 1,714,808 in 2008, when New Jersey held a March presidential primary on Super Tuesday; 1,388,669 in 2016; 1,065,063 in 1981, when both parties had spirited gubernatorial primaries without any organization lines; 1,013,219 and in 1984, when the race for the Democratic presidential nomination between Walter Mondale and Gary Hart went until June.

Editor’s note: an earlier version of this story misstated the percentage of rejected provisional ballots.  It is about 2.5%.  The author will return to using a calculator.

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