Gov. Phil Murphy is expected to sign an executive order today that moves the Perth Amboy non-partisan runoff election — if there is one — to December 15, the New Jersey Globe has learned.
The runoff will be conducted primarily through vote-by-mail ballots, with a limited number of in-person polling places open on Election Day. All voters will have the option of voting through VBM ballots or on paper ballots on December 15.
The runoff option, which voters approved in a 2019 referendum, appears increasingly likely in a crowded field of five candidates.
The incumbent, Wilda Diaz, faces three city councilmen – Helmin Caba, the city’s Democratic municipal chairman, Joel Pabon, Sr., and Fernando Irizarry – and Joseph B. Vas, an attorney and the son of the former mayor Diaz ousted in 2008.
Perth Amboy’s new runoff law will be triggered if no mayoral or council candidate gets 50% of the vote.
That number of votes needed to win – half of the total votes cast – will be difficult to calculate until November 10. That’s the last day vote-by-mail ballots postmarked by November 3 will still be accepted by county election officials.
Murphy’s order gives officials extra time to design and mail ballots to 25,097 eligible, active voters in Perth Amboy.
Results of the November 3 general election are not expected to be certified until November 20.
That will be followed by a ballot drawing, and then the printing and mailing of runoff ballots.
That assumes the runoff, if necessary, will produce two clear candidates and not face court challenges that may not commence until after the certification.
Middlesex election officials have the option of redeploying more than 30 secure ballot drop boxes to locations in Perth Amboy to obviate the need for involvement by the U.S. Postal Service in returning ballots.
It’s not immediately clear how the state will handle a federal law requiring military ballots be sent out 45 days before Election Day.
In an added twist, the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission has told the New Jersey Globe that candidates may not accept campaign contributions from existing donors who have already contributed the maximum amount until after they are certified for a runoff slot.
Diaz, Caba, Pabon and Vas are each running with two city council candidates.
The eight candidate field for two seats creates the possibility of a runoff for city council as well.