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New Jersey Secretary of State Tahesha Way.

State launches electronic petition filing portal

By Nikita Biryukov, March 23 2020 12:13 pm

The New Jersey Secretary of State’s Office has launched its electronic platform for nominating petition signature gathering that was announced last week by Gov. Phil Murphy and Secretary of State Tahesha Way as part of a streamlined filing process so that candidates don’t have to personally file at state, county and municipal election offices during the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the system, candidates must fill out and save one-page nominating petition, providing their name, address and party affiliation, along with other similar information.

The completed form must then be sent to voters, who are instructed to print out the form, fill it, scan it and return the file to the candidate. If voters do not have access to a document scanner, they can e-sign the petition.

The online forms each have space for a single signature, and candidates are responsible for gathering the individual sheets from prospective signatories.

Signature thresholds needed to run for a given office remain unchanged.

U.S. Senate candidates will still need to gather 1,000 signatures.

Candidates for the House of representatives need 200, and those wishing to run in State Senate and Assembly special elections in the 25th legislative district each need 100 signatures.

Signatures that were gathered on Physical petitions before the electronic platform was launched still need to be provided to the state Division of Elections.

Those who are unable to email of fax their electronic petitions to the are instructed to make an appointment to drop them off in person between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24, or Thursday, March 26.

The limited time frame for in-person drop-offs may pose a problem for candidates without the means to electronically submit their petitions and plan to gather signatures on the last weekend before filing day.

The March 30 filing deadline remains unchanged, and there are no in-person drop offs after March 26.

It’s possible the Division of Elections will provide slots for in-person drop offs on filing day before it arrives.

Petition circulators do not need to get their electronic filing forms notarized, though they still need to provide their name and address on forms they’re responsible for.

Those filing their petitions electronically are asked to limit the size of their emails to 25 MB.

That limit won’t affect most candidates running in the state’s special elections, but it will complicate the process slightly for House and U.S. Senate candidates, as well as candidates who wish to file a larger-than-required number of signatures.

Empty signature forms for the House and U.S. Senate are 133 KB and 132 KB in size, respectively.

That means the Division of Election’s email system can support emails with roughly 190 attached signature forms.

While PDFs can be compressed into an archive or have their file size reduced through other means, scanned documents tend to be larger than ones created electronically, and the number of signature forms a candidate can send in a single email will likely fluctuate.

Electronic petitions for various offices can be found below:

U.S. Senate

House of Representatives

Choice for president

Democratic presidential delegates

Republican presidential delegates

Republican at-large presidential delegates

25th legislative district State Senate special election

25th legislative district General Assembly special election

Local/county one-candidate generic form

Local/county two-candidate generic form

Local/county three-candidate generic form

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