It’s probably going to cause some people to long for the April school election.
Gov. Phil Murphy said today that in-person voting will resume with the April 20 school and fire district elections. That sounds like a big deal, and philosophically, it may be.
However, as a practical matter, it really doesn’t mean all that much.
Very few municipalities have fire district elections, which normally have been held in February.
And while the April school election in some districts was a major electoral event, that changed during the Christie years when in most cases it was folded in with the November election. That biggest impact of that change did away with the public vote on the annual school budget, which many school board members hated anyway – especially when it was defeated.
School districts had the right to retain – or even restore – the budget vote, but more than 90 percent of them have just moved electing school board members to November, where there is no vote on the budget.
So when the state takes some baby steps in two months to “regular” voting, there won’t be all that many participating.
Then things get better.
The governor said that the May 11 municipal elections will also offer in-person voting. There aren’t many of those either, but May elections, generally in the state’s older cities, tend to be spirited contests that draw a good number of voters.
Well, we don’t know.
Murphy said he’s “optimistic” about in-person voting for the June primary, where he and many, many others will be on the ballot. Besides governor, all 120 seats in the Legislature are up.
No “in-person” voting in last fall’s presidential election was – and continues to be – a magnet for praise and condemnation.
Murphy was enthused that the turnout was enormous.
Republicans, meanwhile, claim the scheme favors Democrats.
It seems logical that if in-person voting takes place in June that it also will take place in November. Logical, but no one knows for sure.
Besides commenting on elections, the governor also said that the state has now administered more than 1 million vaccines. That number includes both first and second dosages.
“This is definitely forward progress,” he said, adding that a “great barrier” has been crossed.
He said the best news is that the state’s vaccine rate is increasing. While it took 29 days for New Jersey to administer 250,000 vaccines, it took only 16 days to jump from 500,000 to a million.
Additionally, the state’s virus metrics have been improving. The rate of transmission is under one and the positivity rate is in single digits.
It’s that kind of good news that has Murphy taking the steps he did regarding in-person voting and last week, expanding, albeit slightly, indoor dining capacity limits.
The governor said he hopes to vaccine at least 4.7 million New Jerseyans by the beginning of summer, which he identified as between Memorial Day and July 4.
And if that happens, politicians may have to worry again about getting their supporters to the polls.