WBGO Statehouse Reporter Joe Hernandez previews the June Primary in New Jersey
New Jersey’s primary election is Tuesday, June 8 and it will look a bit different than the state’s elections did last year at the height of the pandemic.
Here to discuss what you need to know about how to cast your vote and who’s on the ballot is Joe Hernandez … WBGO's New Jersey State House reporter.
Joe, when is the deadline to register to vote?
-- Tomorrow! Tuesday, May 18th
-- And if you’re unsure if you’re already registered, you can check the state’s website to see if you are
Last year’s primary and general elections in the Garden State were conducted primarily by mail because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But Governor Phil Murphy announced in March that this year’s primary election would occur mainly in person. What will that look like?
-- All polling places open, Murphy announced, big change from last year when you could only vote provisional
-- You’ll be able to vote on a machine at your local polling place, and if you’re not sure where it is you can check online
-- Polls will likely have SOME coronavirus safety protocols, but we don’t yet know what, I asked the state for any guidance they had on this but they didn’t reply with any
-- Also, Governor Murphy signed a big early in-person voting bill this year but it WON’T be ready in time for the primary because counties still need e-poll books
Some people may not want to vote in person. Is there an option to vote by mail?
-- Yes! You can vote by mail for any reason in NJ
-- Apply for a ballot with your county clerk, either by mail or in person
-- Then you have three ways to return your ballot: by mail, hand it in at polling place or county BOE, or put it in a secure dropbox (list is on state’s website)
-- The state also has a way for you to track your ballot online to make sure it’s counted
-- If you requested a mail ballot and didn’t get it or prefer to vote in person, you can but you’ll be required to cast a provisional ballot
So now people know how to vote in New Jersey in the primary election. What will they be voting for?
-- Off year election, unlike most states, so governor and whole legislature on the ballot
-- Murphy up for second term, four-way race in GOP primary
-- Many incumbents are running for re-election, though many districts have uncontested primaries
-- However there are some interesting legislative races, including Assembly members Gordon Johnson and Valerie Vainieri Huttle are locked in a bitter race for the Democratic nod in the 37th District to fill the seat of longtime Sen. Loretta Weinberg, who is retiring
-- Also some local elections on the ballot, including here in South Jersey
-- Heated Democratic primary in Camden to fill the vacancy left by former Mayor Frank Moran, who resigned suddenly this spring
NOTE: WBGO thanks Joe Hernandez for all his work over the years. He will be a "breaking news" reporter for NPR starting next week.