Sources: Clerks Leaning Toward All-VBM Elections in Covid-19 Crisis Year

County clerks this week – on an urgent, accelerated time line – are trying to figure out how to hold an election while combating the Covid-19 virus.

According to sources close to the clerks, they are having daily calls with the Secretary of State’s Office regarding the scheduled June 2nd Primary Election, school board (April 21st) and special elections.

There are differences of opinion among the clerks about the degree to which they have closed on a solution. They have kicked around moving forward with an election that prioritizes best social distancing and hygiene practices. They have examined moving the election date.

But as of this moment and despite the challenges of processing six million vote-by-mail (VBM) ballots, three sources say the clerks and the state are mostly leaning toward the option of an all-VBM election, at least for the primary (and very likely the school board and Atlantic Coty referendum eletions).

One source said the other options are not looking viable, noting that if New Jersey postpones the election, we risk losing Democratic National Committee (DNC) delegates. If New Jersey lacks poll workers and go to voting centers, the state risks gathering, which public health experts discourage. Just today, Governors Andrew Cuomo, Phil Murphy and Ned Lamont urged people not to gather in groups of 50 or more, and that number is likely to get smaller in the coming days.
Given timelines that require ballots out well before the election, the clerks need the state to make a decision quickly. To that end, the clerks are assembling cost/savings numbers and will deliver those to the Secretary of State’s Office within the next few days. “We’ll get recommendations within the next day or two,” Governor Phil Murphy confirmed to reporters on Monday. “It’s too early to tell. But it does give me a chance to give a commercial for early in-person voting. Each county should have a location for one month before the election.”


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