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State Sen. Michael Testa. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Testa claims mostly-mail election will disenfranchise more than armed men at the polls

By Nikita Biryukov, September 15 2020 12:59 pm

State Sen. Michael Testa (R-Vineland) came out in opposition to a bill barring the use of poll watchers and preventing law enforcement officials from being stationed at polling places Tuesday.

The measure, introduced by Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson (D-Trenton), is meant to prevent a resurgence of tactics used by 1981’s infamous Ballot Security Task Force, a group of off-duty police and sheriffs officers deployed to primarily non-white, Democratic neighborhoods by the Republican National Committee.

Some — including then-Rep. Jim Florio — believe the group intimidated enough Democratic voters to hand Gov. Tom Kean Sr. a victory over Florio, and the resulting Democratic National Committee suit blocked the RNC from enacting similar measures until it lapsed in January 2018.

Testa claims the bill barring a resurgence of the task force is unnecessary becase of Gov. Phil Murphy’s order mandating an almost-entirely mail election, which the senator claimed would disenfranchise voters.

“Let’s be 100% clear. Governor Murphy is engaged in the biggest voter suppression scheme in New Jersey history,” Testa said. “Under his executive orders, many New Jersey voters who want to visit their local polling center to cast their ballot securely in a voting booth on Election Day will be prevented from doing so. Instead of scaring New Jerseyans of the Boogeyman for headlines, my Democratic colleagues could help us solve this real example of voter suppression that Governor Murphy is inflicting upon New Jersey. I won’t hold my breath waiting.”

Only voters with disabilities who require a machine to vote will be allowed to use one, though they can still cast a provisional ballot at their polling place.

Alternatively, they can deposit their mail-in ballots at a secure ballot drop box, hand deliver said ballot to county elections boards before the close of polls on election day or drop it off at a polling place on election day. Voters can also mail their ballot in.

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