Gov. Phil Murphy signaled he would sign a bill delaying swearings-in for county committee members drafted to account for the six-day grace period for late-arriving mail-in ballots.
“We got called from both sides of the aisle on this with very reasonable rationale for why it should be extended,” the governor said during Wednesday’s virus briefing. “I’m very sympathetic, I have to say.”
The bill passed both chambers of the legislature with wide bipartisan margins. It would remove a requirement that members of county party organizations be sworn in on the first Tuesday following the primary, instead requiring they take office by the third Saturday following the certification of election results.
Murphy is expected to sign the bill sometime this week. It would have to be signed on Monday, at the latest, to avoid conflicting with municipal and county committee reorganizations.
Under current law, county committees would be required to hold their annual reorganization meetings before their election wins were certified. New laws enacted during the pandemic created days-long grace periods for late-arriving mail-in ballots.
Election officials will continue accepting mail-in ballots postmarked by primary day until Monday, June 14.
That would brush up against reorganizations for municipal and county political parties, while the New Jersey Republican and Democratic State Committees have scheduled their own reorganization meetings for June 15 and 17, respectively. Those dates wouldn’t work under the new rules, nor would local and county reorganizations slated for early next week.
The bill would also change the timeline for county committees to hold their annual meetings. Existing law requires they be held the Tuesday following a primary, while the bill would require they be held by the third Saturday following the certification of results.
A previous version of the bill required those meetings be held on a Saturday, though a provision allowed them to be rescheduled if a Saturday meeting conflicted with religious observances, as it would for devout Jewish people.
The measure, sponsored by Assemblywoman Joann Downey (D-Freehold), also creates a three-day grace period for municipal clerks to issue certificates of election after receiving vote tallies from county election boards and transfers the responsibility of certifying results to the county clerk.
Municipal clerks are responsible for such certifications under existing law.