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Gov. Phil Murphy. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe)

Electronic signature collections likely to stay during pandemic, Murphy says

Governor: ‘I assume folks overwhelmingly take that responsibility seriously and lawfully’

By Nikita Biryukov, April 12 2021 2:46 pm

Gov. Phil murphy said candidates would likely retain the ability to electronically collect signatures during the pandemic, signaling that his campaign’s accusation of fraud against shadowy perennial candidate Lisa McCormick would not sink the policy.

“I continue to think the ability to have electronic petitions filed, at least in this moment in time, continues to be smart,” Murphy said. “And I assume folks overwhelmingly take that responsibility seriously and lawfully.”

The governor declined to say clearly whether independent candidates whose general election petitions are due by June 8 would be able to gather those signatures electronically.

But he suggested they would.

“Whether or not it’ll still be in place for the general, I’ve got no news on that, but as long as we’re in a pandemic and we can do this, I think we should continue to do it,” the governor said.

The Democratic State Committee last week challenged McCormick’s petitions, charging they were fraudulent and potentially criminal.

Numerous voters who appeared on McCormick’s petitions denied signing them during a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. Other names that appeared on the filing belonged to individuals who died years ago.

McCormick and her controversial life partner Jim Devine skipped the hearing, with the latter telling Judge Jeffrey Rabin in an email, sent after the hearing began, that he had been locked out by his landlord and could not communicate.

The two own their Lambertville home, but Rabin declined to enter the email into the record, saying Devine had not demonstrated he was an interested party to the case.

“They have intentionally skipped being at this hearing,” the judge said.

George Losse, a technology specialist for the state Division of Elections, said he felt McCormick might have used a mail merge system to obtain the signatures, pulling them from an outdated voter list.

Roughly 85% of the signatures they submitted began with the letter A or B.

The Democratic State Committee has asked the Division of Elections to refer the matter to law enforcement.

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