April 20 school board and fire commissioner elections and May 11 non-partisan elections will be
held in-person, Gov. Phil Murphy announced today.
The move signals a return to in-person voting for the June 8
primary election, although Murphy specifically said no decision have been made.
“While we are not making a decision on the June primary
elections at this point, we are optimistic that we will be able to conduct in-person voting in June as well,” said Murphy.
Murphy said the decision
is a result of Covid numbers “headed in the right direction.”
“We are optimistic that these trends will continue, especially
as more residents get vaccinated and the weather becomes warmer,” he said.
Last year, Murphy mandated may local elections held entirely
through vote-by-mail and primary and general elections where all eligible voters received VBM ballots – and limited
in-person voting – as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
“As always, voters will have the ability to request a
vote-by-mail ballot for any reason,” Murphy said. “We will ensure that all in-person polling places adhere
to proper health and safety protocols, including face coverings and social distancing and frequent sanitation.”
In a general election conducted
almost entirely through mail-in ballots, 4,635,580 votes were cast. With 76.6% of all eligible voters casting ballots,
it was the largest turnout in New Jersey history.
Vote-by-mail have worked better for Republicans.
While suburban voters in
heavily Republican counties embraced mail-in ballots, but not as much by urban voters from communities of color in Democratic
strongholds. Turnout numbers showed that.
New Jersey now has three data sets for vote-by-mail elections. A consolidated non-partisan
election for local offices in 33 municipalities sparked a clear increase in voter participation in races that traditionally
attract few voters. Democrats and Republicans cast 1,466,366 votes in a primary election that witnessed the second-highest
turnout in state history.