The filing deadline to run for elected office in New Jersey is on April 5, 2021. In New Jersey, prospective candidates may file for the following offices:
• Lieutenant Governor
• New Jersey State Senate (all 40 seats)
• New Jersey General Assembly (all 80 seats)
Ballotpedia is also covering local elections in the following counties:
• Essex County
• Hudson County
The primary is scheduled for June 8, and the general election is scheduled for November 2.
New Jersey’s statewide filing deadline is the fifth of six to take place in the 2021 election cycle. The last statewide filing deadline is on May 21 in Washington.
New Jersey has a Democratic state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. Democrats have a 25-14 majority with one vacancy in the state Senate and a 52-28 majority in the state House. Democratic Governor Phil Murphy was elected to office in 2017.
Although the first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was confirmed on Jan. 21, 2020, it wasn’t until March when the novel coronavirus upended life for most Americans. Throughout March and April, states issued stay-at-home orders, closed schools, restricted travel, and changed election dates. Many of those policies remain in place today.
Here are the policy changes that happened March 23-27, 2020. This list is not comprehensive. To see a list of all policy changes in each category, click the links below.
◦ Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) issued Executive Order No. 20-12, which directed individuals in the state to stay at home unless performing essential activities and placed restrictions on non-essential businesses.
◦ Amy Acton, the Director of the Ohio Department of Health, issued a stay-at-home order on March 22 that directed individuals in the state to stay at home unless performing essential activities and placed restrictions on non-essential businesses. The order went into effect March 23, and was originally set to expire April 6.
◦ Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) signed S2608 into law, authorizing municipalities to postpone any elections originally scheduled to take place prior to May 30, 2020, to any date on or before June 30, 2020.
◦ Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate (R) announced that absentee voting in the June 2, 2020, primary election would open on April 23, 2020, 40 days before the primary.
◦ In Wisconsin, Executive Order #12 took effect. The order directed Wisconsinites to stay at home as much as possible and non-essential businesses and operations to cease, with limited exceptions for minimum basic operations and working from home. Gov. Tony Evers (D) signed the order on March 24.
◦ Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) issued a proclamation amending the original state of emergency declaration by directing individuals in the state to stay at home unless performing essential activities and placing restrictions on non-essential businesses.
◦ Montana Governor Steve Bullock (D) issued a directive authorizing counties to conduct upcoming elections entirely by mail.
◦ The Indiana Election Commission authorized the temporary suspension of the state’s statutory absentee voting eligibility requirements, allowing all voters to cast their ballots by mail in the June 2, 2020, primary election.
◦ The U.S. Senate voted 96-0 to pass the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which included individual payments of $1,200 for individuals making up to $75,000 annually.
◦ In Kentucky, Executive Order 2020-257 took effect. The order directed individuals in Kentucky to stay home except for essential activities and closed nonessential businesses in the state. Gov. Andy Beshear (D) issued the order on March 25.
◦ In Colorado, an order directing individuals to stay home unless performing essential activities and placing restrictions on non-essential businesses took effect. Gov. Jared Polis (D) and Jill Hunsaker Ryan, the executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, issued the order March 25.
◦ In Minnesota, an order took effect directing individuals in the state to remain at home unless performing essential activities and placing restrictions on non-essential businesses. Gov. Tim Walz (D) signed the order on March 25.
◦ South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) issued an executive order requiring people traveling to South Carolina from Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and New Orleans to self-quarantine for two weeks.
◦ New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) signed an executive order requiring all travelers who entered New Mexico through an airport to self-quarantine for 14 days.
◦ The U.S. House passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act on an unrecorded voice vote.
◦ President Donald Trump (R) signed the CARES Act.
For the most recent coronavirus news, including the latest on vaccines and mask mandates, subscribe to our daily newsletter, Documenting America’s Path to Recovery. To get information on vaccine distribution in your state, click here.
On March 2, St. Louis, Missouri, will hold a mayoral primary using an electoral system called approval voting for the first time in the city’s history. Candidates of all political affiliations will appear on the ballot without partisan labels and voters may choose any number of candidates to vote for. The two candidates receiving the most votes will advance to the general election on April 6. Voters approved the method through the passage of Proposition D in November 2020.
Mayor Lyda Krewson (D) is not running for re-election. Four candidates are running in the primary: 2017 mayoral candidate Andrew Jones, St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones, Aldermen President Lewis Reed, and Alderwoman Cara Spencer. Each has a partisan affiliation: A. Jones ran as a Republican in 2017, and the other three candidates have previously run for office as Democrats.
The St. Louis Post Dispatch endorsed both Spencer and Reed. T. Jones was endorsed by Saint Louis County Executive Sam Page, Democracy for America, and the state council of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Spencer was endorsed by former Mayor Vincent Schoemehl Jr. and former Aldermanic President James Shrewsbury.
Through Feb. 22, Spencer raised the most money of all the candidates ($356,000), followed by T. Jones ($333,000), Reed ($271,000), and A. Jones ($20,000).
Candidates have each made crime a key priority in this campaign. A. Jones said that the city’s violent crime problem made it harder for the city to attract new businesses and retain existing ones, so addressing crime would improve safety while also improving the city’s business climate. T. Jones said she supported restructuring the police department’s budget to reallocate funding for mental health services, job training programs, and treating substance abuse. Reed’s campaign website called for a focus on violent crime, using a strategy called focused deterrence with groups most likely to commit violent crimes. Spencer, citing her background in mathematics and modeling, said she would implement a data-driven strategy for crime reduction in the city.
The city of St. Louis utilizes a strong mayor and city council system. In this form of municipal government, the city council serves as the city’s primary legislative body and the mayor serves as the city’s chief executive.
On March 2, Burlington, Vermont voters will decide Question 4, a measure to implement ranked-choice voting for city council elections beginning in March 2022.
The Burlington City Council attempted to place a ranked-choice voting measure on the November 2020 ballot, but it was vetoed by Mayor Miro Weinberger (D) after receiving a 6-5 vote from the city council. It would have implemented RCV for city council, mayoral, and school commissioner elections. The council amended the measure to only include city council elections and reconsidered it for the March 2021 ballot. It was approved on September 22, 2020. Mayor Weinberger signed the measure on October 3, 2020.
The vote will be the first time the city voters decide on RCV after repealing it in 2010. In 2005, Burlington voters amended the city’s charter to implement RCV—referred to as instant runoff—for mayoral elections. The 2005 measure was approved by 64% to 36%. It was used in the 2006 and 2009 mayoral elections.
On March 2, 2010, voters repealed ranked-choice by a vote of 52% to 48%. The measure to repeal ranked-choice voting was placed on the ballot through a ballot initiative petition drive after the 2009 mayoral election.
The Yes on 4: Better Ballot Burlington campaign is co-chaired by Former Governor Howard Dean (D) and City Councilmember Zoraya Hightower (Vermont Progressive Party). Hightower said, “I believe [RCV] helps elect leaders that are more representative of our city and cities across the country.” Mayor Weinberger opposes the amended measure saying, “[Prior use of ranked-choice voting] led to campaigns being very hesitant to define differences and distinctions between themselves on substance because of concerns of alienating second and third votes from other candidates. I was a campaign chair of a mayoral election during that period. I just don’t think it worked well.”
A ranked-choice voting system (RCV) is an electoral system in which voters rank candidates by preference on their ballots. If a candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, he or she is declared the winner. If no candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, the candidate with the fewest first-preference votes is eliminated. First-preference votes cast for the failed candidate are eliminated, lifting the second-preference choices indicated on those ballots. A new tally is conducted to determine whether any candidate has won a majority of the adjusted votes. The process is repeated until a candidate wins an outright majority.
As of 2021, one state (Maine) had implemented RCV at the state level, one state (Alaska) had adopted but not implemented RCV, eight states contained jurisdictions that had implemented RCV at some level, and another five states contained jurisdictions—including New York City—that had adopted but not yet implemented RCV in local elections.
All active registered Burlington voters will be receiving an absentee ballot the week of February 8. Voters may return their absentee ballot by mail, drop box, or at an election polling place on March 2. Polling places will be open from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm on election day. Voters may register to vote in-person on election day.
The November 3, 2020, general elections included races for president, 35 U.S. Senate seats, 435 U.S. House of Representatives seats, 120 statewide ballot measures, 165 state executive offices, state legislative seats in 86 chambers, and thousands of local offices and ballot measures.
All told, 37 states modified their absentee/mail-in voting procedures for the general election. These modifications can be divided into five broad categories. Here’s a recap of all of the changes made throughout 2020.
• Automatic absentee/mail-in ballots: Five states (California, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, and Vermont) automatically sent absentee/mail-in ballots to all eligible voters.
• Automatic mail-in ballot applications: Eleven states (Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Wisconsin) automatically sent absentee/mail-in ballot applications to all eligible voters.
• Eligibility expansions: Twelve states (Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia) expanded absentee/mail-in voting eligibility.
• Deadline extensions: Five states (Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania) extended absentee/mail-in ballot application or submission deadlines.
• Other process changes: Four states (Alaska, Ohio, Texas, and Virginia) made other modifications to their absentee/mail-in ballot procedures.
Ballotpedia is following results in 9,756 elections, including each state in the presidential election. Here’s the status of these elections as of 9 a.m. on Nov. 5, subject to change as more results come in:
65.4% (6,378) are called and not subject to a recount or lawsuit
34.5% (3,370) are uncalled and not subject to a recount or lawsuit
8 races are currently called but subject to a recount or lawsuit
7 races are currently uncalled and subject to a recount or lawsuit
Michigan: On Nov. 4, the Trump campaign and Eric Ostergren, an election challenger from Roscommon County, filed suit in the Michigan Court of Claims alleging Ostergren was excluded from viewing the absentee/mail-in ballot review process. In Michigan, election challengers differ from poll watchers. Political parties and certain interested groups appoint election challengers. Election challengers can question a ballot’s validity during counting. State law says at least one election challenger from each major party must be present during absentee/mail-in ballot counting.
Plaintiffs also reference state law requiring video monitoring of all ballot containers and allege Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) must allow election challengers to view this surveillance. Plaintiffs say, “Benson’s actions and her failure to act have undermined the constitutional right of all Michigan voters … to participate in fair and lawful elections.”
The plaintiffs are asking that the counting and processing of absentee/mail-in ballots stop immediately until election challengers have access to video monitoring until one challenger from each party is present at the counting boards.
Georgia: On Nov. 4, the Trump campaign and the Georgia Republican Party sued in the Chatham County Superior Court alleging that the Chatham County Board of Elections had failed “to safely store absentee ballots” and might be illegally accepting “absentee ballots arriving after 7:00 p.m. on Election Day.” The plaintiffs allege this “frustrates [the] organizational mission and dilutes lawful votes for Republican candidates in state, local, and federal contests.”
The plaintiffs submitted an affidavit from registered poll watcher Sean Pumphrey who says he saw 53 ballots received after 7 p.m. on Nov. 3 mixed in with ballots received before that time.
The plaintiffs are asking the court to require Chatham County election officials to segregate ballots received after 7 p.m. on Nov. 3 and “provide an accounting of all such absentee ballots, including the number of ballots received after 7 p.m. on Election Day, the name of the absentee voter, and the time and date that such absentee ballot was received” to the plaintiffs.
Pennsylvania: On Nov. 4, the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee sued Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar (D) and the state’s 67 county election boards. Plaintiffs allege processes allowing mail-in voters to provide missing proof of identification after submitting their ballots violated state law.
On Nov. 1, Boockvar directed county election officials to give mail-in voters until Nov. 12 to provide missing proof of identification. State law specifies that missing proof of identification must be submitted by the sixth day following the election, which would be Nov. 9. The plaintiffs asked the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania to reinstate this statutory deadline.
Upcoming absentee/mail-in voting deadlines
Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have secondary receipt deadlines for absentee/mail-in ballots. In these states, ballots must generally have been postmarked on or before Election Day, but they will be accepted if received within a certain number of days after Nov. 3. These secondary receipt deadlines are listed below in chronological order.
District of Columbia
For coverage of all dates, deadlines, and requirements, click here.
Discussions about policy responses to the coronavirus are happening at a fast pace. As part of our ongoing coverage Documenting America’s Path to Recovery, Ballotpedia has published a series of articles capturing the regular themes in support of and opposition to these policy responses.
Here’s how it works. First, we identify a topic area, (such as mask requirements or testing). Next, we gather and curate articles and commentary from public officials, think tanks, journalists, scientists, economists, and others. Finally, we organize that commentary into broad, thematic summaries of the arguments put forth.
We’ve identified the following arguments as some of those in favor of expanding absentee/mail-in voting due to the pandemic:
Absentee/mail-in voting reduces the spread of COVID-19 and is necessary to facilitate access to voting,
Absentee/mail-in voting is unlikely to increase fraud, and
Absentee/mail-in voting is fair to both major parties.
We’ve identified the following arguments as some of those against expanding absentee/mail-in voting due to the pandemic:
Absentee/mail-in voting is less reliable than in-person voting,
Absentee/mail-in voting poses a higher risk for fraud,
Absentee/mail-in voting opens the door to flawed election policies, and
Absentee/mail-in voting can create election controversies.
Heading into the Nov. 3 general election, six states are expected to require absentee/mail-in voters to obtain the signature of a witness or notary in order to have their ballots counted. They are:
Alabama: Two witnesses or one notary
Alaska: One witness
Mississippi: Notary or other officer authorized to administer oaths
Missouri: Notary or other officer authorized to administer oaths
North Carolina: One witness
Wisconsin: One witness
Six states have suspended, reduced, or otherwise modified statutory or regulatory witness/notary requirements, as election officials prepare for an anticipated record-high number of absentee/mail-in ballots. They are:
North Carolina (reduced from two witnesses to one)
Oklahoma (voters can submit copies of their identification in lieu of having their ballots notarized)
Witness/notary requirements have been subject to litigation throughout 2020. Further changes to these procedures are possible as the general election approaches.
The rules and procedures governing absentee or mail-in ballots vary widely from state to state. One key difference is when states are allowed to begin counting absentee or mail-in ballots.
Thirty-four states do not allow absentee/mail-in ballot counting to begin either until Election Day or after polls close.
Sixteen states allow officials to begin counting at least some absentee ballots before Election Day.
Seven of these states—Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, and Vermont—explicitly allow vote counting to begin before election day.
In nine of these states, statutes either do not specify when ballots may be counted or leave the decision to the discretion of local officials: Connecticut, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Utah.
Of the 16 states that allow absentee/mail-in ballots to be counted before election day, 10 voted for President Donald Trump (R) in the 2016 presidential election. The remaining six voted for Hillary Clinton (D).
The Mississippi Legislature referred a constitutional amendment to the 2020 ballot that would change election requirements for candidates for governor and statewide elected office.
Currently, in Mississippi, a candidate for Governor or elected statewide offices (Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Auditor, State Treasurer, Commissioner of Agriculture, and Commissioner of Insurance) must win the popular vote and the highest number of votes in a majority of the state’s 122 House districts (the electoral vote).
If no candidate secures majorities of both the popular and the electoral vote, under Article V, Section 141, the Mississippi House of Representatives considers the two highest vote-getters and chooses the winner. The election system was adopted in the state constitution of 1890.
The constitutional amendment would remove the electoral vote requirement and the House of Representatives’ role in choosing a winner. The amendment would provide that if a candidate for Governor of Mississippi or statewide elected office does not receive a majority vote of the people, the candidates will proceed to a runoff election.
The details of the runoff election would be provided through state law. A runoff election is a second election conducted to determine which of the top vote-getters in the first election will be elected to office. Runoffs occur in states that require candidates to receive a majority (as opposed to a plurality) of the vote to win an election.
A majority voting system is an electoral system in which the winner of an election is the candidate that received more than half (50%+1) of the votes cast. A plurality voting system is an electoral system in which the winner of an election is the candidate that received the highest number of votes. The candidate does not need to win a majority of votes to be elected.
The amendment was introduced as House Concurrent Resolution 47 by Rep. Jim Beckett (R) on February 17, 2020. The House adopted the measure in a vote of 109-6 on June 28, and the Senate adopted the measure in a vote of 49-2 on June 29, 2020.
The Mississippi House of Representatives has decided a gubernatorial election one time. In 1999, Ronnie Musgrove (D) received a plurality of the vote, 8,300 more votes than the next highest vote-getter, Mike Parker (R) in a contest with four candidates. Musgrove received 49.6% of the vote and Parker received 48.5% of the vote. Musgrove and Parker each won 61 of the state’s 122 House districts. Since neither candidate won a majority (over 50%) of the vote and a majority of the state’s House districts, the Democratic-controlled Mississippi House of Representatives decided the election. The House chose Musgrove on January 4, 2000, in a vote of 86-36 along party lines.
The National Redistricting Foundation, the 501(c)(3) arm of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, which is chaired by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, supports the constitutional amendment. The foundation said the amendment would “remove a racially discriminatory law designed to restrict the voting rights of African Americans. Due to pressure from a National Redistricting Foundation lawsuit filed last year, the state is finally casting out a post-Reconstruction era electoral scheme designed to maintain white control of the state government and prevent African-American voters in Mississippi from having a real voice in their representation.”
Four African-American citizens filed a federal lawsuit (McLemore v. Hosemann) backed by the National Redistricting Foundation on May 30, 2019, alleging that the electoral vote requirement was racially discriminatory and violated the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act. Plaintiffs sought a preliminary injunction to block enforcement of the electoral vote requirement for the 2019 gubernatorial election.
On November 1, 2019, the court acknowledged that the electoral vote requirement was likely unconstitutional, but noted that “courts have allowed elections to proceed under unconstitutional rules where it is simply too late to make a change” and denied to grant a preliminary injunction. On December 13, 2019, the court stayed litigation surrounding the election requirements to give the state legislature a chance to remove the constitutional provisions during the 2020 legislative session and said that “if the amendment process falls short, then there would be ample time to resume this litigation and resolve the matter before the 2023 election cycle.”