U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-North Bergen) and Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) urged additional funding for the U.S. Postal Service as the agency prepares for primaries in New Jersey that will be held primarily using mail-in ballots.
“We need to give them the resources to achieve an even greater demand, and we certainly expect the postal service to deliver, as they always have, and to do it effectively and efficiently,” Menendez said during a call with reporters Monday. “And we’ll certainly be talking to the postal officials to make sure they can execute, as they are expected to do, and preserve the enfranchisement of each voter.”
Under the plan Gov. Phil Murphy announced Friday, every New Jersey voter registered with the Republican or Democratic party will receive a mail-in ballot for the state’s July primaries.
Unaffiliated voters will have vote-by-mail applications delivered to them, though the state is keeping at least one polling place open in each municipality.
That means at least 5.7 million voters will get a ballot in the mail.
The governor’s plan comes on the heels of all-VBM elections held on May 12 that saw a range of issues stemming from the Postal Service’s handling of mail-in ballots.
In Paterson and Irvington, there are allegations that unattended vote-by-mail ballots might have enabled ballot tampering.
In Belleville, large numbers of ballots were left unattended in apartment building lobbies, and mail-in ballots from around the state have seen delayed delivery.
Some election-day mail wasn’t collected by USPS workers, and other VBMs have been mailed without postmarks.
“Each one of those ballots should have been placed in a postal patron’s mailbox, period,” Menendez said, adding that faulty mailboxes could prevent such delivery in some cases.
House Democrats last week passed a $3 trillion stimulus bill that includes $25 billion in direct aid for USPS, would allow the agency’s $11 billion debt to the U.S. Treasury to be forgiven and allow it to borrow an additional $15 billion.
Because the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act, more frequently known as the HEROES Act, is Democrats first offer in what are likely to be grueling negotiations with the Republican-controlled Senate and White House, it’s not clear whether funding for USPS will make the final cut.
“I know many of our healthcare providers are concerned that there might be a resurgence in the fall, and we want to make sure everyone has the ability to vote safely and feels comfortable doing that, so we need to make sure the Post Office has the resources it needs to conduct that kind of election,” Sherrill said.
Any aid for the post office will need to be moved expediently. Less than two months remain before New Jersey’s July 7 primary.
“All in all, I think the postal service does a very good job,” Menendez said. “We need to give them the resources to achieve an even greater demand, and we certainly expect the postal service to deliver, as they always have, and to do it effectively and efficiently, and we’ll certainly be talking to the postal officials to make sure they can execute as they are expected to do and preserve the enfranchisement of each voter.”