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New Jersey Secretary of State Tahesha Way. (Photo: New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs photo by Mark C. Olsen)

Secretary of State’s office projects confidence about early voting infrastructure

Some considerations, such as county-level security plans, remain unresolved

By Joey Fox, October 06 2021 10:44 am

With New Jersey’s first-ever early voting period less than three weeks away, the office of the Secretary of State is satisfied that the proper systems and guidelines are in place to make this year’s elections run smoothly. 

The office’s confidence echoes that of Gov. Phil Murphy, who said last week that he “feels good” about the state’s preparedness for the extra week of in-person voting.

But several issues remain, among them reports of a severe poll worker shortage. Murphy’s executive order raising poll worker pay from $200 to $300 is in large part to entice more poll workers, and there will be no statewide cap on the hours any one poll worker can work, though counties can implement their own restrictions.

However, a spokesperson for the Secretary of State’s office said that the state is not training national guardsmen to operate early voting systems, eliminating one potential avenue for addressing the worker shortage.

County-level security plans are also still outstanding; the spokesperson said that counties are in the process of submitting them to the Secretary of State’s office, but that they won’t be publicly released for security reasons.

The spokesperson also insisted that new electronic poll books and early voting systems have been properly tested and certified by the state, and that the Statewide Voter Registration System will be able to handle the number of data uploads and downloads required of it each day. Data from any given day of early voting is required by law to be available by noon the next day.

This story was updated at 2:36 p.m. to amend errors about how much money a poll worker could make based on Murphy’s executive order.

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