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

New York City primaries haven’t moved Murphy towards ranked-choice voting

Governor ‘open-minded’ but unenthusiastic about the complicated voting reform

By Nikita Biryukov, July 12 2021 2:50 pm

New Jerseyans looking to neighboring New York’s mayoral election shouldn’t expect ranked-choice voting to make its way southwest over the Hudson River.

Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday said he was open-minded to the policy, but it isn’t priority for him as he moves into the months preceding election day.

“I don’t come in like I would on things like minimum wage or in-person early voting or gun safety. I don’t come in with a great passion,” Murphy said. “I don’t look at it as fixing a big injustice in our voting reality.”

New Jersey has enacted a series of voting reforms during Murphy’s first term, even before the pandemic forced a greater focus on mail-in ballots.

Voters who request a mail-in ballot will now be added to a list to receive such ballots in future elections. Election officials will count mail-in ballots for six days after election day so long as they’re postmarked by election day, and voters are allowed to correct technical deficiencies in their ballots weeks after polls are closed.

The state has even moved to enact early in-person voting, though those systems won’t be stood up in time for this year’s races.

New York City had its own dalliance with ranked-choice voting in last month’s primaries. Those races, held June 22, took about two weeks to decide.

Eric Adams, the Brooklyn Borough president, was declared the winner on July 6 in the eighth round of counting. He led former New York City Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia by about 8,400 with all votes in, though several candidates retained their right to challenge the results in court.

The experience hasn’t lit a fire in Murphy’s heart.

“Has the New York experience changed that? I don’t know that it has, honestly,” the governor said. “I’m open-minded, but it’s not something I approach and say ‘boy, this is a great passion,’ like in-person early voting was a passion, getting folks who were on probation or parole was a passion. This is not on that list.”

Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (D-South Brunswick) and State Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro) have introduced bills to institute ranked-choice voting, though those measures have not reached committees. With the legislature on break until after the election, it’s not likely there’ll be any any new movement this year.

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