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George Helmy, the chief of staff to Gov. Phil Murphy. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe.)

Helmy hints at vote-by-mail general election

Murphy has suggested mid-August announcement on in-person vs. VBM election

By David Wildstein, August 06 2020 2:58 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy’s chief of staff today appear to hint that New Jersey might be headed toward a general election conducted almost entirely through vote-by-mail ballots.

In a tweet on Thursday, George Helmy praised the New Jersey Democratic congressional delegation decision to push U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy for answers over increased delivery delays.

“If we can find billions of (dollars) to help for-profit companies, we can also invest in entities essential to the upcoming election,” Helmy said.

It’s not clear if Helmy is telegraphing Murphy’s intent to hold another statewide election dominated by mail-in ballots.

Murphy has indicated that he will make a decision around the middle of this month about whether the November 3 election will return to in-person voting or hold another vote-by-mail election.

If Murphy opts for another mostly-VBM election, it would involve county election officials mailing nearly 6.2 million ballots.

New Jersey already has some experience in conducting elections through vote-by-mail ballots.

In March, Murphy ordered various local non-partisan and special elections and referendums in 33 municipalities to conduct their voting entirely through mail-in ballots on May 15.

Murphy announced in April that he was moving the June 2 primary election to July 7, and then decided in May to cancel in-person primary voting in most cases and replace it with vote-by-mail balloting.

Preliminary election results late last month showed turnout in the primary election at about 24%, the second highest in state history.

A spokesman for Murphy declined comment.

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