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

Murphy’s faith in hybrid primary unshaken by May election irregularities

‘I continue to have a high degree of confidence in July 7,’ governor says

By Nikita Biryukov, June 16 2020 3:23 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy’s confidence in the state’s hybrid primary hasn’t been shaken by irregularities seen during all-vote-by-mail elections held in May.

“I continue to have a high degree of confidence in July 7,” he said Tuesday. “And that’s not to say that there may or may not have been failures in the system.”

Every registered Democrat and Republican will receive a mail-in ballot for this year’s primaries with postage pre-paid, while unaffiliated voters will get a vote by mail application that they can also return free of charge.

Unaffiliated voters and others who wish to cast their votes at the ballot box rather than the mailbox can vote provisionally at a reduced number of polling places. Every town will have at least one, but in-person voting capacity will be cut to half in each of the state’s 21 counties.

The hybrid plan is the state’s way of attempting to balance elections with public health amid a pandemic that has left nearly 13,000 New Jerseyans dead and shuttered businesses for more than three months

“We’re trying to balance two really important objectives,” Murphy said. “One is voting is the sacred stone in democracy and to allow as many folks as possible to vote is huge imperative to open democracy up as best we can, and the other one … is to keep people safe and healthy.”

The state’s attempt at all-VBM elections in May wasn’t without its issues.

In some cases, the U.S. Postal Service was slow to deliver returned mail-in ballots to elections officials.

Under state law, mail-in ballots that are cast by 8 p.m. on election day must be counted if they arrive within 48 hours of the close of polls.

That grace period has been extended to seven days for the primary, but some ballots didn’t reach elections officials until weeks after they were cast.

In Paterson, state and federal authorities have launched investigations over voter fraud concerns after nearly 900 ballots appeared to have been harvested and bulk-mailed from three separate mailboxes.

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