New Jersey Plans to Use Mail-In Voting for November Election

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New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said he will order the November general election to be conducted mostly through mail-in voting in a system he called “a little bit more cumbersome.”

The general election format will be similar to that of the state’s July 7 primary. The state, in an unprecedented move, sent vote-by-mail applications to every registered voter -- 6.2 million people, according to state data -- and also opened some polling places.

In November, voters will be able to cast ballots via the U.S. Postal Service and in-person at polls, where they also may hand over their completed mailed documents to election workers. Secretary of State Tahesha Way said officials also will place at least 10 boxes in each of 21 counties -- in secure places and with cameras monitoring -- for voters to place their ballots “without using the mail.”

“The postal service, and its necessary funding, is being turned into a political football by those who simply don’t believe in expanding ballot access,” Murphy said. “We will not let these political issues disenfranchise voters or suppress anyone’s ability or right to vote.”

The plan comes as President Donald Trump claims, without evidence, that widespread voter fraud will taint the election. In recent days, the U.S. Postal Service has removed sorting machinery from some facilities, causing slowdowns, according to union officials.

Trump often casts the May 12 special municipal election in Paterson, the state’s third-most populous city, as an example of vote-by-mail dangers. About 20% of mail-in ballots were rejected by county election officials after the documents were found to be improperly bundled. A councilman, a councilman-elect and two others were charged with fraud in June.

Murphy said the incident showed that a system is in place to prevent election manipulation. “If someone screws around with us, we’re going to catch you, we’re going to indict you,” he said.

The governor said for the Nov. 3 election -- which includes the presidency, 35 Senate seats and all 435 House of Representatives seats -- “everybody gets a ballot,” regardless of party affiliation. “If you do vote in person, you’ll have to do what we call provisional voting because the folks won’t necessarily know at the voting location whether or not you actually already mailed a ballot in.”

He called the process a “little bit more cumbersome, but it works.”

Murphy, a first-term Democrat, will detail the plan at a 1 p.m. news conference in Trenton.

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