Doug Steinhardt will has laid out a three-point plan to enhance voter confidence in elections if he is elected governor of New Jersey in 2021, including a zero-tolerance policy to ensure in-person voting in every election.
The Republican gubernatorial candidate’s Voter Integrity Program also includes removing ineligible voters from the registration database and banning all voting machines made outside the United States.
“Democratic elections are the foundation of our Constitutional Republic,” Steinhardt said. “Phil Murphy has punted on voter integrity and left New Jersey voters feeling insecure and disenfranchised. As Governor, I will make election integrity a top priority of my Administration. We will follow the simple rule that every legal vote counts.”
Steinhardt, a former Republican State Chairman, promised that he would never permit an election that doesn’t offer every New Jerseyan the chance to vote in-person on a voting machine.
“No pandemic or political crisis, real or manufactured, will replace a person’s lawful ability to vote in person,” stated Steinhardt. “If we can wait on eight-hour lines for the privilege of a driver’s license at Phil Murphy’s failing DMV, we can stand on line at our polling place and vote. As Governor, vote by mail, while an option, will never again replace a voter’s lawful right to vote in person.”
While avoiding debunked conspiracy theories surround several voting machine manufacturers during the 2020 elections, Steinhardt pledged a Buy America approach to all hardware and software surrounding elections.
“As we become increasingly concerned with foreign actors interfering in our domestic elections, my Administration will take definitive steps to secure the machines we use to conduct them,” he said. As Governor, I will demand that New Jersey voting machines are American made, using American parts and software.
He also pledged to “vet our voter rolls” so that poll books would reflect deaths, out of state relocations, and name changes. Steinhardt promised to “facilitate better communication between agencies and make cleaning up the State’s antiquated voter rolls a top priority.”
Democrats slammed Steinhardt for spreading conspiracy theories.
“Five people are dead, including a Capitol Hill police officer from New Jersey, and the U.S. Capitol has been desecrated as a direct result of mob violence fomented by President Trump and other Republicans’ embrace of dangerous and unfounded conspiracy theories about voter fraud. Rather than taking even a moment to reassess his decision to spread this poison, Doug Steinhardt has instead decided to double down and dive even deeper into the realm of QAnon-style, completely debunked conspiracy theories about voting,” said Saily Avelenda, the executive director of the Demcoratic State Committee. “At a time when New Jersey and our country need responsible leadership from both parties, Doug Steinhardt has once again proven himself to be totally unfit to serve as Governor.”
Eric Arpert, campaign manager for one of of Steinhardt’s Republican primary opponents, former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, called Steinhardt’s plan “a cheap imitation” of a detailed plan he introduced in August.”
“Where was Steinhardt on this issue as State Party Chairman all last year? Today’s Steinhardt press release fails to include, by the way, even key election security measures like Voter ID,” Arpert said. “We need more than poorly plagiarized press release. We need a serious plan, which is exactly what Jack Ciattarelli has offered and is expanding on today.”
Ciattarelli’s plan included a photo ID requirement for all voters, requiring paper ballots tabulated by optical scan machines, the removal of inactive voters, and support for early voting that would “ease potential lines at polling places and expand access to citizens across the state who for one reason or another may not be able make it to the polls on Election Day, but would prefer not to cast their ballot via the mail.”
“President-elect Biden is going to be inaugurated just over a week from now, and he will inherit a very divided and weary country,” Ciattarelli said. “A peaceful transition of power is of critical importance to the future stability of our democracy, but so is our citizenry having faith and trust in our election system. Right now, whether some people like it nor, that is not the case. Therefore, it is incumbent upon true leaders in both parties to recognize that and do something about it.”
Voicing concerns over allegations of voter fraud, Ciattarelli said that voters have largely lost confidence in the integrity of elections.
“Under Murphy’s leadership on elections, we had issues of voters receiving duplicate ballots, current homeowners receiving ballots addressed to the previous homeowner; and ballots addressed to dead people were an embarrassment for our state and it cannot be repeated,” Ciattarelli alleged. “As we institute “early voting” by machine, we need to fix these other issues so voters can feel confidence that their vote – and the votes of their neighbors – are legal and secure, and that the results of the election are valid.”
According to Ciattarelli, voting reform should not be a partisan issue.
“Through reforms like these, we could make voting more accessible, safer, and less costly than it was in 2020 – a win, win, win for all involved. Most of call, it will aid in healing our country in the wake of a most difficult year,” he said.
This story was updated at 11:30 AM with comment from Avelenda and at 11:37 AM with comment from Ciattarleli.