Republican Senators Ask Murphy Administration for Plan to Reimburse Counties for Cost of Vote-by-Mail Primary
Republican senators sent a letter (click here for PDF) to New Jersey Secretary of State Tahesha Way requesting details of the State’s plan to reimburse local governments for the increased costs associated with the all vote-by-mail primary election ordered by Governor Murphy.
The letter was sent by eleven members of the Senate Republican caucus who represent ten of the twelve New Jersey counties that did not receive direct funding from the federal government through the CARES Act for COVID-19 response.
While the governor proposed in May to allocate $250 million of the $2.4 billion in federal aid received by the State to help local governments that did not receive aid directly to pay for coronavirus response efforts, no such support has been delivered by the Murphy Administration to date.
The full text of the letter is below:
June 30, 2020
Dear Secretary Way,
We are reaching out to ensure that the State has plans to reimburse local governments for the increased costs associated with the all vote-by-mail election ordered by Governor Murphy through Executive Order No. 144 on May 15, 2020.
While nine New Jersey counties with populations over 500,000 received CARES Act funding directly from the federal government to assist with the costs associated with COVID-19, the other twelve counties are dependent on the State to allocate a portion of the $2.4 billion it received under the Act to assist in their response to the coronavirus. In acknowledgement of the State’s responsibility, the governor has proposed setting aside $250 million of the State’s share to support the needs of local governments. We believe that must include the expense of modifying elections for counties that did not receive federal aid directly.
We represent ten of the twelve counties that did not receive direct federal funding: Atlantic, Burlington, Cape May, Cumberland, Hunterdon, Mercer, Morris, Somerset, Sussex, and Warren.
Our county clerks have advised us that they have incurred significant costs to comply with the governor’s executive order to modify the upcoming primary elections to be held safely during the current public health emergency. It is our understanding that your office has confirmed to the clerks that the State has earmarked some of the CARES Act funding it received to reimburse local governments for these increased costs.
The clerks have expressed concern, however, that no timeline for reimbursement has been communicated by the administration, and that it is unclear if local governments will be reimbursed for the full cost of complying with the governor’s executive order beyond the regular expense of holding a standard primary election. We have heard that reimbursements may be limited and available on a first come, first served basis. That would be wrong.
The State’s failure to meet its obligation to local governments would shift the burden of funding compliance with Governor Murphy’s executive order to property taxpayers. That would only increase the harm inflicted on the people of New Jersey who have suffered so much already during this crisis.
Please provide to us the details of any plans that you have produced, are developing, or are aware of to reimburse local governments for the increased election costs they have incurred under orders from the administration. If no such plans are in the works, please explain why. We look forward to your timely response.
Deputy Conference Leader
Anthony M. Bucco
Senator – District 25
Senator – District 9
Senator – District 23
Senator – District 1
Senator – District 12