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

Murphy orders all-electronic petitions for referendums

Governor: ‘Now is not the time for anyone to be going door-to-door to campaign or collect signatures for any purpose’

By David Wildstein, April 29 2020 2:09 pm

County and municipal clerks will be allowed to accept petitions for ballot initiatives and referendums electronically and signatures may be collected electronically, Gov. Phil Murphy said today.

The gathering of signatures after May 1 will only be permitted electronically, although hand signatures obtained before then will be accepted.

“Now is not the time for anyone to be going door-to-door to campaign or collect signatures for any purpose,” Murphy said.  “By allowing this process to move forward electronically, we can ensure that initiative and referendum campaigns proceed in a manner that protects public health.”

The deadline to submit non-binding county and municipal public questions to county clerks is August 14.  Submission of public questions, other than proposed amendments to the State Constitution – has a deadline of August 25.

Murphy allowed the electronic collection of petition signatures for the primary election, but also accepted hard-copy petitions in advance of the March 30 filing deadline.

A group of South Jersey progressive candidates filed a lawsuit against the state and some counties after their electronic petitions were invalidated by local county clerks.  Way was named in the suit because the candidates alleged that clerks were not properly instructed, but the lawsuit was dropped last week just before depositions were set to begin.

Murphy said his executive order will require Secretary of State Tahesha Way and Attorney General Gurbir Grewal to create a generic template for electronic signatures and petitions be made available by Saturday.

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