No person should have to choose between exercising their constitutional right to vote and their personal health and safety. Ensuring they don’t have to, legislation sponsored by Speaker Craig Coughlin, Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez and Assemblywoman Lisa Swain was passed by the full Assembly 79-0-0 on Monday. It now goes to the Governor’s desk.
The bill (A-3922), consistent with Governor Murphy’s Executive Order 120, would move the date for the 2020 primary election from June 2 to July 7 in addition to moving the date of any other election scheduled to take place between May 13 and July 6 of this year to July 7 as well.
“We need to protect the health and safety of New Jersey residents first and foremost during this time,” said Speaker Coughlin (D-Middlesex). “Moving the primary date allows us to do the planning necessary to preserve public health and ensure that voter turnout is not negatively and unnecessarily impacted. What took place in Wisconsin where voters had to leave their homes and stand in line for hours will not be an acceptable reality for New Jersey. People should not have to risk their lives to cast their ballot.”
Over 1.3 million registered New Jersey voters turned out for the 2016 June primary. While the bill would not affect the scheduling of primaries beyond 2020, it does provide for the recalculation of deadlines for delivery of mail-in ballots and party affiliation registration based on the new July 7 date.
“This election cycle is extremely important for many communities throughout our state and entire country,” said Jimenez (D-Bergen, Hudson). “If we don’t give ourselves time to prepare and do this the right way, some communities would inevitably go under represented due to fear or higher risk for coronavirus.”
“Performing your civic duty cannot and should not come at the cost of you and your family’s safety, and staying safe cannot come at the cost of your right to vote,” said Swain (D-Bergen, Passaic). “Pushing the date along with recalculation of accompanying deadlines is the balancing compromise we need in these trying times.”
The bill would also move the filing deadline for independent candidates to be directly nominated for the general election to coincide with the new July primary election date.