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Governor Phil Murphy. Photo by Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe

Murphy tinkers with election executive order on Tuesday night

Reduces the amount of time for candidates to drop out and still be replaced

By David Wildstein, August 26 2020 12:57 am

Gov. Phil Murphy has moved up the deadline for candidates to drop out of the race and still be replaced on the general election ballot from September 10 to August 28 in an executive order signed late Tuesday evening.

He had initially moved the date to August 29, but that was a Saturday.  My taking formal action to move the date to August 28, he avoids the deadline being pushed until Monday, August 31.

Murphy also authorized county Boards of Elections to count ballots after the polls close on November 3 until 11 PM and then resume counting at 9 AM the next day — and every day– until all accepted ballots are counted.

Opportunities for voters to cure signature defects will now take state election law into consideration before guidelines issued by the Secretary of State become effective. 

Murphy has also backed off a plan to require all ballots to be sent out “return receipt requested,” which costs counties $2.83 per ballot.  Instead, the new order mandates “return service requested” — a postal status that costs .55 per return notice.  

The order also requires provisional (paper) ballots to be counted on an on-going basis until the count is complete.

Murphy will allow sealed ballot bags to be opened early in order to expedite the count of provisional (paper) ballots in time to be certified.

The governor’s most recount order pushes the audit date for ballots to December 8, but allows for a certified count before that date.

Any initiatives not on the ballot by August 31 will not appear on the ballot this year. 

It’s not immediately clear how the courts will handle replacement candidates in a general election conducted primarily through vote-by-mail ballots. 

In 2002, the New Jersey Supreme Court ordered county clerks to reprint and in some cases re-email ballots after U.S. Senator Bob Torricelli dropped his bid for re-election in late September and was replaced by Frank R. Lautenberg.

It’s still unclear how election officials expect to conduct a run-off election in Perth Amboy by December 8, especially if the certification is set for just two weeks before Election Day.  Perth Amboy elects a mayor and two council seats that year.

This story was updated on August 26 at 9:16 AM.  

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