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April 08, 2020

New Jersey delays primary election to July 7 due to coronavirus outbreak

It had been scheduled to take place June 2, the same day as Pennsylvania and Delaware, which had already rescheduled from April

2020 Election Coronavirus
New Jersey presidential primary election date coronavirus covid-19 Thom Carroll/For PhillyVoice

New Jersey's presidential primary election date has been pushed back by a month due to the COVID-19 outbreak across the state.

New Jersey’s primary election is being rescheduled to July 7 due to the coronavirus crisis across the state, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Tuesday. The measure was made official in an executive order signed by the governor.

The primary had been scheduled to take place June 2, when 10 other states are slated to hold primary elections. 

“Preserving basic functions of our democracy is critical in this unprecedented time,” Murphy said. “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 decision was made in hopes that New Jersey's public health crisis would improve and allow in-person voting, but also the extra time will make it easier should New Jersey decide to shift to a solely vote-by-mail election, which has never happened before in the state, Murphy said. 

The state's decision to hold the presidential primary on July 7 also factored the new date for the Democratic National Convention, rescheduled from July 13 to Aug. 17 in Milwaukee. The new date gives New Jersey the same time frame between its primary election and the national convention as it had before both events were rescheduled, Murphy said.

New Jersey’s decision comes two weeks after Pennsylvania and Delaware moved their primaries back from April 28 to June 2 due to the COVID-19 outbreak. It is unclear at this point if those states will follow New Jersey and delay again, but state officials have said that they are prepared to make more adjustments to their primary election schedules if the situation does not improve.

All three states have either mail-in or absentee ballot options available to residents who are unable to get to the polls on Election Day or feel uneasy about voting in-person due to the virus.

On Wednesday, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders suspended his presidential campaign, making former Vice President Joe Biden is the presumptive Democratic nominee who will face President Donald Trump in the general election this November.

New Jersey's primary ballots will still have contested races for the U.S. Senate and U.S. House. 

New Jersey has 47,437 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 1,504 deaths due to COVID-19, both the second-most of any state across the country, as of Wednesday afternoon. While the vast majority of cases have emerged in North Jersey, there are 2,363 positive cases and 58 deaths in South Jersey.

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