NJ to be ‘Overwhelmingly Vote by Mail’ Nov. 3

New Jersey’s November 3 general election will be held “overwhelmingly vote by mail,” with paper ballots mailed to every registered voter, Gov. Phil Murphy said at today’s state press conference. Voters can then place their ballots in designated drop boxes, mail them in, or hand them to poll workers at a polling place on Election Day, he added.

“We are providing these additional means not only to make it even easier for voters to return their ballots, but because the ongoing issues at the U.S. Postal Service requires us to provide them,” Murphy said.

Murphy said overall, “All of us recognize the importance of this year’s election, ensuring that every voter has the ability to securely cast his or her ballot while protecting public health. This is our paramount concern.”

Of note, each municipality will be required to have at least one in-person polling site on November 3, and all New Jersey counties must ensure that at least 50% of their total polling places are open. An online voter registration system in New Jersey will begin operation on September 4.

Colleges and Universities 

Separately, Murphy announced that the New Jersey Office of the Secretary of Higher Education will begin awarding the first $150 million in CARES Act funding via the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) to support colleges and universities with offsetting coronavirus-related costs.

He said this includes their purchases of cleaning and disinfecting supplies, modifying campus facilities, “as well as costs related to transitioning to online learning.”

“Our colleges and universities are among the very best in the world – never mind the nation,” Murphy said. “They are a core strength in New Jersey, and will play a vital role in our long-term recovery and economic growth – and I am committed to seeing them stay strong.”

Public Health Update 

Meanwhile, Murphy again bemoaned the fact that nearly 20% of people whom coronavirus contact tracers attempt to reach do not answer the phone, and that almost 50% of those who do refuse to cooperate with contact tracers; there are a total 1,529 contact tracers in New Jersey.

Murphy reiterated that contact tracers are focused on stopping the spread of coronavirus, and not seeking to punish people for, say, underage drinking.

New Jersey’s statewide coronavirus rate of transmission stands at .92 today, and there are only 514 COVID-19 related hospitalizations. There were 585 new positive test results announced today, for a statewide cumulative total of 187,164 cases since the pandemic began.

The total cumulative number of COVID-19 fatalities stands at 14,064, with 10 new confirmed deaths announced today. There have been 1,839 “probable” COVID-19 fatalities in New Jersey.

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