Many decisions regarding the state’s newly-delayed primaries have yet to be made, Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday.
The governor said he did not know whether he expected the state to face difficulties recruiting poll workers and securing polling locations for the primary elections, which will now take place on July 7, more than a month after June 2, when they were originally set to be held.
“We just don’t have any insight on your questions on July 3rd, 4th, polling locations, workers,” Murphy said.
It’s not clear whether Murphy will require election officials to come into work on July 3, a state holiday.
It’s also unclear whether the governor will require counties that offer in-person pre-election voting for those who missed the vote-by-mail deadline to remain open on the Fourth of July.
“Please god that we’re not in this at July 7th,” Murphy said, referring to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, “But we have to reserve the decision on workers, locations. Vote by mail or not is happily not a decision we need to make now.”
Murphy hasn’t ruled out holding the primaries entirely using mail-in ballots, though he said he hopes that in-person polling can be conducted with social distancing measures in place for polling locations.
The new primary date could create some logistical problems for state and county election officials.
Elderly poll workers may opt to not work during this year’s primaries over coronavirus concerns.
Further, the later date may make it more difficult for the state to secure some commonly-used polling places.
Though schools have been ordered to close indefinitely amid the pandemic, they would normally be open during an early-June election, but school years in the state ubiquitously end before July 7.
It’ll also be likely be hotter in July than in June. The lack of air conditioning units in some schools could create health hazards not directly related to COVID-19.
Fortunately for Murphy, the delay gives his administration time to consider all of the potential pitfalls with an in-person vote during what officials hope will be the tail end of crisis.
“We’ve bought ourselves a significant number of weeks here, so that is to be determined,” Murphy said.