New Jersey election officials are actively working on plans for primary election conducted entirely through vote-by-mail ballots, the New Jersey Globe has learned.
Five senior election officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity say that Gov. Phil Murphy will need to make a decision on the June New Jersey primary by early next week, if not sooner.
“If the governor doesn’t make the call by Tuesday or Wednesday, we might not be able to have an election on June 2,” one official said. “He might have to push the primary to later in June.”
Plans for an all-VBM primary election comes at a time when other states have postponed primaries scheduled for March, April and May to June 2. It’s possible that a Democratic presidential candidate cannot mathematically clinch the nomination until June 2 – something that makes the New Jersey primary theoretically relevant.
Another official cited the lead time on printing ballots and envelopes and the challenge of meeting the April 19 target date to send out VBM ballots.
Robert Giles, the director of the state Division of Elections, told officials in a conference call that he has identified out-of-state vendors to help with printed, if needed, an official said.
An all-VBM primary would mean that every unaffiliated voter, sometimes known as independents, would receive ballots for each party. New Jersey has nearly 2.4 million unaffiliated voters.
One county has already taken the step of ordering VBM envelopes, just in case.
“We did name a huge order for envelopes, knowing that in the future we could still use them,” Middlesex County Clerk Elaine Flynn told the Globe. “It’s better to be prepared than to be caught short.”
Flynn said she anticipates difficulties in finding election day poll workers – Middlesex employs more than 2,400 of them – and maybe even polling locations.
She said he won’t be surprised it the primary is all-VBM.
“We’re probably thinking it could happen,” Flynn said. “They may change the date of the primary, but you never know.”