Most lawsuits over New Jersey’s vote-by-mail election resolved
Gov. Phil Murphy's executive order creating an all vote-by-mail election on Nov. 3 did not come without legal challenges. But most have been settled.
The order was issued as a way to ensure all voters could cast a ballot during the coronavirus pandemic.
"COVID-19 has impacted nearly every aspect of our lives, from our health and safety to how we participate in our democracy," Murphy said when issuing the executive order in August. "This virus continues to threaten public health, and with today’s announcement, we are ensuring that New Jersey voters do not have to make a decision between exercising their right to vote and protecting their well-being."
Three challenges were made against New Jersey's plan.
- Trump campaign sued New Jersey: A federal judge on Oct. 6 declined to grant an injunction filed by the Trump campaign to stop Murphy's executive order. The Trump campaign said the program violated the Constitution and would "establish conditions likely to incentivize and facilitate the same kind of fraud and confusion that have plagued New Jersey elections for years." Despite the argument, election-related fraud is exceedingly rare in New Jersey.
- New Jersey sues the U.S. Postal Service: New Jersey joined a federal lawsuit seeking to block changes at the U.S. Postal Service. In a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., with New York City, the state of New York, Hawaii and San Francisco, the state said that the Postal Service's reductions in overtime, mail-sorting machines and public mailboxes are illegal because they were implemented without a public hearing. The lawsuit was settled when Postmaster General Louis DeJoy authorized the use of additional resources "to satisfy any unforeseen demand and ensure that all Election Mail is prioritized and delivered securely and on time."
- Ballot access: The New Jersey ACLU and the League of Women Voters of New Jersey filed a lawsuit to allow ballots to be delivered and returned electronically to accommodate those who are away from their home. "As of now, displaced New Jerseyans have to wait at their mailbox in hopes that the ballot they requested will arrive in time. If it doesn’t, they will be disenfranchised. The state has an obligation to allow voters to exercise their rights, and today we’re asking the Court to ensure they can," ACLU-NJ Legal Director Jeanne LoCicero said in a written statement. A system is already in place for New Jersey residents who are overseas in the military those with disabilities to receive a ballot digitally. The lawsuit would allow all voters who do not receive their ballot by Oct. 30 to also get their ballot digitally.
The deadline for New Jersey residents to register to vote has passed. Ballots must be returned by 8 p.m. on election day to a county ballot box or postmarked by the U.S. Mail. Voters can choose to vote in person at select locations but will received a provisional ballot that will be counted last.