NJ voter turnout almost high as 2016 — even before Election Day
With less Election Day just hours away more than 3.5 million votes already had been cast via mail-in ballots in New Jersey — almost 90% of the 2016 general election turnout — Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday.
During a video briefing on Facebook Live — mostly dedicated to updates on the novel coronavirus, but veering into other topics — Murphy urged voters not to mail-in ballots at this point. Instead, he said, completed ballots still could be put in one of the state's secure drop boxes until 8 p.m. Tuesday or hand-delivered to a voter’s County Board of Elections or worker at their local polling place.
The governor rejected statements made by some of his political opponents that "in person" voting is banned this year
“Anybody telling you you can’t vote in person is just wrong. They are not telling the truth,” Murphy said.
Unlike years past, all voting in-person will be done by paper, provisional ballots, which county elections officials have said are virtually the same as the mail-in ballots sent to each active, registered voter. The ballots will be counted after election officials confirm the same person hasn't voted by mail.
When asked by a reporter if the number of provisional paper ballots cast would be disclosed Tuesday night, to add to the transparency of the process, neither Murphy nor his chief counsel had an immediate answer.
The governor called it a "good question" and said the administration would follow up after the briefing.
At least one polling location will be available in every municipality in the state, under the governor's pandemic directives. Each county will operate at least 50% of its normal polling location capacity, also under executive order.
Based on state regulations, provisional ballots do not begin to be counted until a week after Election Day.
Disabled voters who need ADA-accessible machines will be the only ones allowed to use machines on Tuesday.
When asked about what election results might be announced Tuesday night, Murphy said it was in the state's favor that submitted ballots were already at 90% of the 2016 voter turnout.
He said it also was good that ballot-counting began last Saturday, so "we can expect to know a fair amount Tuesday night."
Murphy's chief counsel, Parimal Garg added: “Results will be reported after polls close — we anticipate a significant number of those will be known tomorrow.”
Republican Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick had wrongly tweeted last Thursday that “As we approach the day when New Jersey votes, Governor Murphy’s order to ban ‘in person’ voting has created serious confusion and more division in our State.”
That incorrect statement was criticized, among others, by Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-7), who responded on Twitter, “Anyone can vote in person on election day, if that's what they prefer. It's hard enough fighting election misinformation from our foreign enemies when the same nonsense is being spread by GOP leaders.” Bramnick later clarified he meant machine voting.
The Democratic incumbent added he hoped that his congressional opponent, Republican Tom Kean, would “correct his colleague.”
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