Primary polling allowed in person, most in NJ disapprove
Most New Jersey residents are apparently not pleased with the way the state will run its presidential primary election in 2020, even though they also have no idea when it's happening.
One day before Gov. Phil Murphy announced the state's July 7 primary would allow in-person polling, albeit limited, a Rutgers-Eagleton poll found 54% of registered voters in New Jersey believe the state should replace the election entirely with voting by mail.
Seventy percent of Democrats in the poll, which was conducted through May 2, support voting by mail only for primary day. Seventy-two percent of Republicans oppose it.
"It's really a debate pitting the health and safety of poll workers and voters, against the integrity and security and accuracy of voting by mail," said Ashley Koning, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling.
Murphy said Friday the primary will be "primarily" a vote-by-mail election, and a limited number of polling places will be open — at least one in every municipality — "to ensure everyone can exercise their right to vote." Continuing efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19, social distancing protocols will be enforced within these locations, Murphy said.
"Our goals are two-fold — to maximize our democracy while minimizing the risk of illness," Murphy said.
According to the poll, just 6% of voters know the election will be held on July 7 — Murphy in April pushed the date back from June. Another 10% of voters knew the primary would occur "sometime in July."
Still, most voters in the poll said they will definitely (53%) or probably (26%) vote in the primary.
Primary elections, though, traditionally have notoriously low turnout rates, in the single or low double digits, Koning noted. The push for vote-by-mail, and the status of the pandemic in July, could boost or worsen the numbers in 2020.
All registered Democratic and Republican voters will automatically receive a postage-paid mail-in ballot. All unaffiliated and inactive voters will automatically receive a postage-paid mail-in ballot application.