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

No thought yet to 2021 primary changes, Murphy says

Covid-19 census delays could force fall primary, delay redistricting

By Nikita Biryukov, April 16 2020 4:07 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy said he has not considered delaying or splitting up next year’s primaries amid census delays that are likely to hold up the state’s reapportionment process.

“I’ve not given one seconds’ thought to next year’s primaries,” the governor said.

A proposal made by President Donald Trump’s administration would delay the release of final census data needed to draw new legislative districts until July 31, nearly two months after the state is set to hold primaries for all 120 seats in the legislature.

The governor said he has not considered holding gubernatorial, county, party and local primary races first and delaying legislative primaries until districts are redrawn, though the mechanics of such a move make it unlikely.

It’s not surprising that the governor has not given much though to next year’s elections given the uncertainty surrounding this year’s primaries, which have been delayed until July 7 in a bid to preserve some in-person voting.

Murphy hasn’t ruled out holding those primaries entirely through vote by mail ballots.

But the state will have to start planning for next year sooner rather than later.

The deadline to post a constitutional amendment on the ballot for this year’s general election is Aug. 3, and changes to the state constitution may be needed if New Jersey can’t hold next year’s primaries until August or September.

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