Gov. Phil Murphy announced Wednesday that he has ordered a postponement of the state’s June 2 primary election for over a month. The news came hours after Bernie Sanders announced he would suspend his presidential campaign, though there was no reference to the Sanders news in the announcement.
The postponement of the primary to July 7 is “in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.” But despite a narrowed field for the Democratic presidential contest, the primaries will also push back races for other candidates involved in contentious primary campaigns for various offices.
The delay will affect races for “President, the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, the 25th district of the New Jersey legislature, and county and municipal elections, as well as county committee elections.”
“Preserving basic functions of our democracy is critical in this unprecedented time,” said Murphy. “Citizens exercising their right to vote should not have to risk their safety and the safety of others in order to make their voices heard. Postponing our primary elections is a difficult, yet necessary, choice to ensure that our citizens can partake in their civic duty of voting.”
The delay will provide county and local election officials “with the time we need to prepare for a free, fair, and safe election for New Jersey voters,” said Tahesha Way, the New Jersey Secretary of State.
The statement from Murphy did not indicate what, if any, measures will be considered beyond the delay itself, such as mandatory mail-in voting or other options considered by election officials across the nation.
The order also states that all deadlines for meeting statutory requirements for a primary election that are currently scheduled to occur after April 11 will be calculated using the July 7, 2020 primary election date. It would not affect deadlines that have already passed.
The order could, in theory, give new candidates time to ramp up independent campaigns. Independent candidate petitions – normally filed in June – will be due by 4 p.m. on July 7, 2020, and the electronic signature and submission requirements that were set forth in Executive Order No. 105 for primary candidates will be extended to these independent candidate petitions.