It’s not clear when state officials will decide whether they’ll make changes to June’s primary elections in response to the COVID-19 crisis, Gov. Phil Murphy said.
“We have no timetable to make any assessment on the June 2nd election,” Murphy said. “But obviously it’s in top of mind, and we will, if we need to act and adjust that in any way, we will do so on a timely basis.”
The governor announced a suite of changes to the state’s pre-primary elections Thursday.
March special elections and April school board elections are being moved to May 12, when the state’s non-partisan municipal races are set to be held.
Each of those races will be conducted entirely through mail-in ballots.
The changes come as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in New Jersey continues to skyrocket.
Officials announced 318 new cases on Thursday, bringing the total number of cases in the state to 742, a day-over-day increase of 75%.
They also announced four new deaths related to the virus, bringing that total to nine.
Murphy said the staggering increase in confirmed cases was partly due to the increase in testing.
An executive order Murphy penned Thursday makes no mention of changes to nominating petition deadlines or signature thresholds, though Secretary of State Tahesha Way’s office is launching a system that will allow candidates to gather signatures and file petitions electronically.
“No one should be out gathering signatures physically,” the governor said. “We want to see all signature collection moving to the online platforms that will be opened.”
County and municipal clerks, who are responsible for accepting petitions for lower-level offices, will have access to the electronic filing system.
Separately, lawmakers in the legislature are considering a measure that would keep the March 30 filing deadline intact but allow candidates to submit signatures for a period of time following their declaration of candidacy.
The measure was not among those moved in Assembly and Senate sessions on Monday and Thursday, and it’s not clear whether that measure will move forward in the coming days.
Legislative committee meetings scheduled for the coming week have been cancelled, though they could be held sooner rather than later if Murphy signs a bill allowing state lawmakers to conduct business electronically that was sent to his desk Thursday.