Aug 16, 2020 - Politics & Policy

New Jersey governor defends decision to move to universal mail-in voting

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) defended his decision to send ballots to all active registered voters, telling "Fox News Sunday" that mail-in voting during the state's July primary was "overwhelmingly successful."

Why it matters: President Trump and his campaign have sought to undermine universal mail-in voting, claiming it will lead to a "rigged election" and a delay in results.

  • The president has repeatedly pointed to a local election in Paterson, N.J., where four men were charged with voter fraud for tampering with mail-in ballots, as evidence of widespread issues with the system.
  • But Murphy argued that the Paterson case should be viewed as a "positive data point," saying: "People tried to screw with the system and failed. The primary in July — I'm not suggesting you always bat a thousand, you don't do that in in-person elections either. ... Our hope is to expand democracy and we believe this is the right way to do it."

The state of play: New Jersey is now one of four states, plus the District of Columbia, that have moved to universal mail-in voting due to the pandemic.

  • Five states already proactively mail ballots to registered voters: Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington.

What he's saying: "We've actually had a pretty deep history with vote by mail and we just had a primary which was a little bit different, only because it was a primary, but we learned a lot from it and we liked what we saw," Murphy said.

  • "Ensuring voter security is completely understandable. I've spoken to the president about it. ... But we've got enough experience to believe between the option of vote-by-mail, to drop your ballot into secure boxes that we will have all around the state, to show up actually on Election Day and hand your ballot over — or failing all that, to actually vote in person. It's a hybrid model, actually."
  • "Again, folks including the president who have concerns about voter security, we all want to make sure that every vote counts, that every person gets to vote once. We've got checks and balances for all of that, Chris. Again, this is an iterative reality."
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