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

State moving forward with in-person voting amid virus surge

‘We are full speed ahead, and I expect that we will be,’ Murphy says

By Nikita Biryukov, October 22 2020 2:23 pm

The state is not preparing a contingency plan to alter or replace in-person election day voting in case the number of new COVID-19 infections in New Jersey spike to a level that would make polling places unsafe, Gov. Phil Murphy said.

“Based on everything we have right now, we are full speed ahead, and I expect that we will be,” Murphy said during a virtual virus briefing Thursday.

Under an executive order the governor issued in mid-August, each of the roughly 6 million active registered voters in the state were sent a postage prepaid mail-in ballot. Those wishing to vote in person can still do so provisionally at a reduced number of polling places.

Each county is required to keep at least half of its polling locations open, with at least one available in each municipality.

Murphy’s expression of continued confidence comes as the state sees an ongoing surge in cases that has pushed its daily positivity rate rise to above 5%. On Thursday, New Jersey reported 1,182 new cases.

Many voters have already cast their ballots through the post or through one of more than 200 secure ballot drop boxes in the state. As of 11 a.m. Thursday, 2,155,011 residents had voted, bringing the state’s turnout to 36.6% with election day still 12 days away.

“I’m just thanking my lucky stars that we did what we did with our election and mailed everybody a ballot because I just can’t image what, particularly with the turnout — which is historic right now, at least on a pace to be historic — I can’t imagine what that would look like if we were all trying to jam into physical voting together,” the governor said.

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