Gov. Phil Murphy expects to make a decision on how the state’s primary elections will be conducted by the week’s end, he said Wednesday.
“By the end of the week, I think we’ll be able to answer,” the governor said.
For the first time in its history, New Jersey on Tuesday held more than 30 races using only mail-in ballots.
While the system appears to have nudged voter turnout upward, the increased participation did not come without a cost.
In Irvington, elections officials found several hundred ballots that contained votes for write-in candidates, most of them with similar handwriting.
Federal and state authorities are investigating roughly 800 potentially fraudulent mail-in ballots returned in Paterson.
Hundreds of mail-in ballots unseparated by any other pieces of mail were found in a single mailbox in Paterson. None of them included bearer signatures.
Elections officials are also raising concerns over delays in delivering filled mail-in ballots to elections officials.
Officials in several counties that held races Tuesday have reported receiving ballots more than a week after they were postmarked.
Under state law, mail-in ballots postmarked by election day will be counted as long as they are received by Thursday. If the delays in processing hold through the state’s July 7 primaries, large numbers of voters could be disenfranchised because of a slow-acting United States Postal Service.
Murphy isn’t indifferent or unaware of the myriad concerns.
“You can imagine we’re digesting yesterday pretty aggressively,” the governor said. “I was back and forth with the secretary of state yesterday both during the day and last evening. We did some amount of post mortems today.”
Murphy is running out of time to make a decision. Roughly a month ago, elections officials from multiple counties told the New Jersey Globe they would need Murphy to make a decision on how the state’s primaries — then still scheduled for June — would be held.
Delaying the races from June 2 to July 7 bought Murphy a month of time to deliberate, but that month has now elapsed, and the governor is very much aware of that fact.
“I’ll be surprised if we don’t have a more comprehensive answer, especially as it relates to July 7th, by the end of this week,” Murphy said.