Obama's 2020 Endorsements
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- Stage 4 -- No excuse required for vote by mail. Permanent vote by mail option
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Amy Kennedy, U.S. House, NJ-02
Andy Kim, U.S. House, NJ-03
Josh Gottheimer, U.S. House, NJ-05
Tom Malinowski, U.S. House, NJ-07
Mikie Sherrill, U.S. House, NJ-11
• New Jersey: Democrats in a state Assembly committee have passed a bill along party lines to establish two weeks of in-person early voting for general elections beginning with next year's state elections. Democrats in the state Senate passed a similar bill in committee earlier this year.
• New Jersey: A federal judge has rejected a Trump campaign challenge to New Jersey's plan to conduct next month's election by mail. Plaintiffs had specifically challenged provisions that allow election officials to start counting ballots up to 10 days before Election Day, and to accept ballots that lack a postmark up to two days after Election Day.
• New Jersey: A group of local Republicans have filed a lawsuit in state court challenging New Jersey Democrats' decision to hold the November election largely by mail.
New Jersey: Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy has signed several voting-related bills into law, including provisions that will implement full voting-by-mail for November, require local officials to set up drop boxes for returning mail ballots, and require officials to notify voters and give them a chance to fix problems with their mail ballots such as the voter's signature supposedly not matching the one on file. While Murphy had previously issued an executive order to mail ballots to all registered voters this November, the Trump campaign and GOP organizations are waging a lawsuit over it in federal court, thus Democrats having passed the same measure legislatively could render that litigation moot.
Additionally, one other newly signed law extends the deadline by when ballots that are postmarked by Election Day must be received by election officials, pushing it back from two days after Election Day to up to six days afterward. Ballots that are missing postmarks but are received by officials up to two days after the polls close will be presumed valid and counted, too.
• New Jersey: New Jersey's Democratic-run legislature has passed a bill to conduct the November general election by mail, though at least one in-person polling place will be open in each of the state's 565 municipalities. Previously, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy issued an executive order for an all-mail election, but Republicans challenged the move in court, arguing that Murphy had usurped lawmakers' authority.
This new legislation, therefore, is an attempt to render that lawsuit moot. A similar move succeeded earlier this year in California after Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered the November election be run by mail, prompting a Republican challenge that was derailed when legislators ratified Newsom's actions by passing their own bill to do the same thing.
• New Jersey: The Trump campaign and national and state GOP organizations have filed a federal lawsuit aiming to overturn Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy's recent executive order adopting a full vote-by-mail system for November, where every voter will be mailed a ballot directly and in-person voting will still be available on a limited basis of at least one location in each of the state's 565 municipalities.
• New Jersey: New Jersey's Democratic-run state Senate appears likely to pass a bill to establish early voting in the state for the first time, with the chamber's president saying he supports a measure that one lawmaker says he plans to introduce in the "next couple of weeks." Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy also says he favors early voting. It's not clear yet whether the idea has the backing of leaders in the Assembly, which is also run by Democrats.
New Jersey: New Jersey Democrats have passed a constitutional amendment along party lines that would delay legislative redistricting from 2021 until 2023 if the Census Bureau doesn't provide the necessary data to draw new lines by Feb. 15 of next year, an approach that would also apply to all future decades. But while it might appear that Democrats are responding to a potential delay in the release of census data due to the coronavirus pandemic, the move would instead chiefly protect current incumbents from having to face new voters for an extra two years.
New Jersey is one of two states (alongside Virginia) that is set to hold legislative elections next year, but to draw new maps in a timely fashion, the state will need granular population data from the Census Bureau, which is normally delivered by March 31. In past decades, the bureau has provided this data to New Jersey and Virginia before its usual deadline—in 2011, it delivered the data on Feb. 3—but because of the pandemic, the bureau has requested that Congress authorize a four-month delay.
While a delay might disrupt New Jersey's current timeline, which calls for an early June primary and likely an early April candidate filing deadline, redistricting reformers have said the Feb. 15 deadline is too early. They note that the state could receive the necessary data weeks or even a few months later and still be able to redistrict in time to hold elections next year, particularly if officials postpone the primary, as they did in 2001 (and as they did this year due to the coronavirus).
If, however, redistricting is delayed, the state's current legislative maps would remain in place through 2023, giving lawmakers the chance to run once more in their familiar districts, and making it less likely they'd face primary challengers. But the biggest adverse impact would be borne by New Jersey's growing Asian and Latino populations, who would see their political power diluted because the districts in their areas would not be adjusted to reflect that population growth for an additional two years.
Redistricting reformers are urging voters to reject this amendment at the ballot box in November. If the amendment fails, New Jersey would likely see litigation if the census is unable to deliver the needed data on time. Congressional redistricting, however, would be unaffected since the next federal elections after the census won't take place until 2022.
New Jersey: Democratic lawmakers in New Jersey have introduced a constitutional amendment that would delay the implementation of new legislative districts from 2021 until 2023 and keep the current districts in place if the Census Bureau is unable to deliver the data from the 2020 census needed to draw new districts on time next year. The Trump administration has already told Congress that it doesn't expect to be able to meet its early 2021 deadlines because of the pandemic and requested a new deadline of July 31. The proposed amendment would come into effect if the census doesn't certify New Jersey's data by Feb. 15.
Democrats hold the three-fifths supermajorities needed to put the amendment on the ballot without any GOP support, although voters would have to approve it in November for it to take effect. If no amendment passes, however, and the state is unable to meet its deadlines mandated under its constitution, it's unclear what exactly would happen except that litigation would be a certainty.
New Jersey has a bipartisan redistricting commission appointed by legislative and state party leaders, and in past decades, a court-appointed tiebreaker has chosen between maps proposed by the two parties rather than draw their own lines. After the 2010 census, the tiebreaking member selected the Democratic proposal, leading the GOP to blast this proposed amendment as a power grab, although common statistical measures find no unfair advantage for Democrats under the current map.
One bill would finally establish an online voter registration system, something only a few other states currently lack. The second measure would fix problems with New Jersey's system for permanent absentee mail voting by allocating funding needed for local governments to handle the higher volume of mail ballots. The system would automatically mail an absentee ballot in all future elections, unless the voter opts out, to any voter who cast an absentee ballot in recent election years.
New Jersey: Democrats have passed a bill out of a committee in the Assembly that would end "prison gerrymandering" by counting incarcerated people for redistricting purposes at their last address instead of where they are imprisoned (and can't vote). State Senate Democrats approved this proposal last year, and if the full Assembly follows suit, the bill would go to Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, who is expected to sign it if it reaches his desk. If the measure becomes law, it could remove outsized representation from whiter communities with prisons and shift it toward urban communities of color.
Meanwhile, Democrats have approved a bill in a Senate committee to fix the problems with the state's permanent vote-by-mail system. Democrats had previously passed a law that would permanently send mail ballots for all future elections to any voter who cast an absentee mail ballot in recent election years unless they opted out.
However, the state's Council on Local Mandates blocked the law shortly after Election Day last year on the grounds that it did not provide funding to local governments to implement the measure. The new bill would remedy that problem by appropriating the necessary funds.