Whatever the Governor Decides, This Will be a Strange Election Year

Somerset Clerk Steve Peter.

We know politics moves along even during a pandemic, but we don’t know when. Governor Phil Murphy acknowledged today it’s a given the New Jersey primary probably won’t be held as planned June 2.

But when asked further about it during his daily COVID-19 briefing, the governor bypassed a chance to provide more clarity, saying only that a decision on the primary will be made soon.

Those who oversee elections in the state are pushing the envelope.

A handful of county clerks and election superintendents wrote to state officials this week asking that an answer about the primary be made by April 3, which is today.

It doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.

One of the first steps in the primary process went off as planned, albeit online. That was the submission of nominating petitions by Monday’s deadline.

Looking ahead, the letter from the county officials presented four options, one of which was doing nothing.

It also suggested moving the primary to later in the year, a total vote-by-mail primary and a hybrid process that would combine vote-by-mail with central voting centers. These centers presumably
would be larger than your normal polling location.

It’s true that a primary two months away may seem far less important than a virus that is killing people daily. On the other hand, one simply can’t forget about something as vital to democracy as an
election – and in a presidential year no less.

The governor strongly hinted the primary won’t take place on June 2, but he gave no indication about how voting will be done.

Murphy did say the state has a bit more flexibillity after Democrats moved their national convention from July to August. It now is scheduled to start Aug. 17 in Milwaukee; Republicans plan to convene a
week later in Charlotte. Both parties will select convention delegates in the primary.

Regardless of when and how primary voting takes place, this is going to be a strange year.

Genuine candidate fundraisers are being shelved in favor of virtual fundraisers. So instead of at least enjoying some snacks, beverages and political chit-chat, donors just send in a check.

Effective, but not much fun.

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