GOP wants federal monitor of mail-in voting for NJ July primary
New Jersey Republicans have asked the state's top federal prosecutor to monitor the July 7 primary over concerns of what they call "disenfranchisement" of voters.
In a letter sent to U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito, state GOP Committee Chairman Doug Steinhardt listed numerous concerns for what he said was "Governor Phil Murphy’s switch to an all-mail primary election."
Murphy didn’t mince words when asked about it Tuesday, calling the request “a political talking point — it’s ridiculous.”
Amid the pandemic, New Jersey's primary election will be largely by mail-in ballots, all sent to registered voters who have declared a party affiliation.
The ballots can be submitted via mail or official ballot drop box location.
As laid out in Murphy's executive order 144, each county should "to the extent possible" provide at least five secure ballot drop boxes in locations that are readily accessible to the registered voters.
Each county also is required to open at least one polling place in each municipality, for at least 50% of the county's polling places, as long as "sufficient poll workers are available."
At the polling places, voters with disabilities can vote on ADA-accessible machines. Others wanting to vote in-person can do so with a provisional ballot.
In the request for federal monitors, the letter signed by Steinhardt said incorrect ballots sent to 500 Republicans in Bernardsville last week was one of a number of issues.
Steinhardt also said there was "massive voter fraud in Paterson" stemming from the May 12 special elections, which were conducted entirely by mail. As reported by Paterson Press, the issue with about 800 mail-in ballots was the discovery of several bundles of a few hundred ballots in at least three places.
State law restricts any one person from handling, delivering or mailing more than three vote-by-mail ballots.
Another report sent with the letter to Carpenito was NJ Spotlight analysis of the May 12 special elections in 31 municipalities, which found that election officials did not count 9.6% of ballots sent in.
Those non-partisan municipal, school board or special elections were entirely done by mail-in ballots.
As of May 1, there were more than 6.1 million registered voters in New Jersey – more than 2.4 million are unaffiliated, 2.3 million are registered Democrats and 1.3 million are registered Republicans.
Unaffiliated voters have been mailed an application for a Vote-by-Mail Ballot.
To vote in New Jersey's closed primaries, unaffiliated voters must choose to be affiliated with either the Democratic or Republican party to receive that party’s Vote by Mail Ballot. Voters can return to unaffiliated status following the primary by completing a Party Declaration Form and submitting it to their county's commissioner of registration.
A voter may apply for a Mail-In Ballot by mail up to seven days before the election, or apply in person to the county clerk before 8 p.m. on primary day.
According to state data, for the last presidential primary in 2016, just under 1.4 million ballots were cast in New Jersey, a turnout of 26% of eligible voters.
Last year’s primary saw 8% turnout of eligible voters.
Further resources for New Jersey's July 7 primary election:
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