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Republican State Chairman Doug Steinhardt (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Steinhardt wants federal monitors installed for July primaries

Republican state chair cites may irregularities, technical difficulties in letter to U.S. Attorney

By Nikita Biryukov, June 23 2020 10:54 am

New Jersey Republicans want the state’s primaries to be held under the eyes of federal monitors.

State Republican Chairman Doug Steinhardt on Monday sent a letter to U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito requesting the installment of federal elections monitors for the state’s July primaries, which will be held almost entirely using mail-in ballots.

Steinhardt cited a bevy of irregularities and roadblocks that have risen to prominence in the wake of the state’s all-vote-by-mail non-partisan municipal elections in May and in the run up to New Jersey’s primaries.

“The basis of this request is the overwhelming number of reports from nearly every corner of the state that indicate Governor Murphy’s switch to an all-mail Primary Election was ill considered and poorly executed to a degree that risks disenfranchisement,” Steinhardt said in his letter to Carpenito.

In Paterson, state and federal authorities have launched election fraud probes after hundreds of ballots were found bound together in three separate mailboxes.

In Belleville, mail-in ballots were left unattended in bulk in the lobby of an apartment building.

Glitches with New Jersey’s Statewide Voter Registration System (SVRS) have, at times, kept election officials from accessing voter information, preventing them from delivering ballots to some voters.

Problems with the Motor Vehicle Commission’s data collection system — the MVC provides information to the Division of Elections when state residents complete any driver’s license transaction, including name and address changes — have stripped election officials of the ability to send ballots to some registered Republicans and Democrats.

In some cases, the U.S. Postal Service returned completed ballots to voters instead of forwarding them to election officials.

The irregularities and delivery delays have led to thousands of votes cast in May to be invalidated.

Gov. Phil Murphy has extended the grace period for late-arriving primary ballots from two days following the close of polls to seven days.

That will likely provide an additional cushion to some ballots, but it’s likely some voters will still see their vote invalidated because of post office delays.

In May, some ballots reached elections officials weeks after they were cast. Such late-arriving ballots are not counted despite being postmarked by election day.

“The governor has not ruled out using this same faulty all-mail election scheme for the November General election,” Steinhardt said. “This is of great concern, given the larger number of voters, and the potential effects it could have on voters’ ability to have a say in who represents them on the local, state, and federal level.”

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