Murphy: Let’s get back to machine voting — but expand it even more
Despite some early concerns about the security and reliability of New Jersey’s mail-in voting system, which was used for the general election earlier this week because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has generally been hailed as a major success.
On Thursday, Gov. Phil Murphy said ballot-counting continues across the Garden State but when all is said and done “we will see the highest number of votes cast in any election in our state’s history.” He estimated well over 4 million New Jerseyans participated in the election, mostly by using mail-in ballots.
Murphy said expanded mail-in voting may certainly be used in future elections, but “I’d like to see us get in-person early voting, make the investments in the electronic roll books and allow folks to vote by machine when they’re voting in person, either early or on election day.”
He said giving more people more options to cast their ballot is a no-brainer.
“Our hope is, and it has been since Day 1, is to open up democracy. I’d love to add in-person early voting to that," he said.
Murphy said when the pandemic is over he would personally like to get back to machine voting, while also giving people the option of early machine voting, but that will require an investment what's called an “electronic poll-book," which can be updated much quicker than the paper books and allow poll workers to check whether someone has voted by mail.
The governor estimated doing that would require legislative approval and up to $30 million in a one-time investment for upgraded electronic equipment. He noted this would do away with provisional voting, so the entire system would be faster.
“Our civic society, our governmental institutions and our democratic system are based on the votes of the people, and the more people participate in this process the stronger each becomes," he said. "Our democracy is stronger when everybody participates and when every vote is counted.”
Murphy added while mail-in voting was very successful “the whole notion of voting by paper is a bone in some people’s throat. It isn’t in mine but I understand why it is.”