Voters have three options for casting their ballots in the New Jersey gubernatorial election, voting by mail, at a polling place on Election Day on Nov. 2 or via in-person early voting but their options are limited by legislative maps drawn to insure one party or the other prevails in most of the 40 districts that each pick one senator and two members of the General Assembly.
Early voting begins on October 23. Find your county’s locations at Vote.NJ.Gov
Democratic incumbent Gov. Phil Murphy is being challenged by Republican former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, while Green Party nominee Madelyn Hoffman, Libertarian candidate Gregg Mele, and Socialist Workers Party contender Joanne Kuniansky also appear on the ballot.
The state posted a statement from each candidate for governor online.
The election includes contests for the state legislature plus local choices for county commissioners, municipal offices and school board members.
Spending on this year’s legislative races has topped $18 million across the state, but a large share of the spending is occurring in just two districts in South Jersey.
In the 2nd Legislative District, Democratic Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo is hoping to beat former Republican Assemblyman Vincent Polistina for the vacant seat of former Republican Senator Chris Brown. Polistina was unopposed in an August 4 special election convention but Democratic Senate President Steve Sweeney has refused to allow him to be sworn into office in order to deny the GOP any benefit of running as an incumbent.
Further down the ballot, incumbent Assemblyman John Armato and Atlantic County Commissioner Caren Fitzpatrick are the Democratic Assembly candidates and former Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian and attorney Claire Swift make up the Republican Assembly ticket.
Sen. Dawn Marie Addiego, who is waging her first campaign as a Democrat after leaving the Republican Party, has a contest in the 8th Legislative District, where she is being challenged by Assemblywoman Jean Stanfield.
State Senate hopeful Assemblyman Jon Bramnick could slip in the 21th Legislative District, where demographics have shifted toward the Democrats and Senator Tom Kean is bailing out to focus on his congressional aspirations, but almost no other jurisdiction has much competitiveness. Bramnick, the Republican Minority Leader is facing Democratic Roselle Park Mayor Joe Signorella.
Heavy spending is also being reported in the 16th Legislative District, where Republican Senator Kip Bateman is retiring and Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker is running against Republican former Congressman Michael Pappas, and in the 11th Legislative District, where GOP Lori Annetta is challenging Democrat Vin Gopal won the Senate seat four years ago.
All 80 seats in the Assembly and all 40 Senate seats are on the ballot but mapmakers have excluded much chance of change and partisan lines have settled over the last decade. Money is playing a significant role in the few competitive legislative districts in the state.
Murphy is a Wall Street millionaire whose record often conflicts with his rhetoric. After voters approved a ballot question calling for the legalization of pot, Murphy signed a law that provides up to 20 years in prison for possession of marijuana.
He signed a measure that gradually raises the minimum wage that allows employers to pay only $4.13 per hour for some jobs and its most generous provision of $15 an hour will not kick in until 2024 and won’t include occupations such as back-breaking farm labor.
Critics say Murphy used his Wall Street fortune to learn what voters wanted to hear, then said that while doing exactly what the corporate-controlled political establishment desired instead of heeding the will of the people.
Ciattarelli— by all accounts a reasonable moderate Republican—has waged a campaign aimed at the Q-anon crazies who worship former President Donald Trump. He has questioned Murphy’s mask mandates and vaccination policies
New Jersey has largely followed the comprehensive national strategy that employs the same science-based approach that was used to successfully combat previous variants of COVID-19 earlier this year. This plan will ensure that we are using every available tool to combat COVID-19 and save even more lives in the months ahead, while also keeping schools open and safe, and protecting our economy from lockdowns and damage.
On the coronavirus pandemic, the latest public opinion survey shows 56% support Murphy’s vaccine-or-testing mandates for school staff, child care staff, and healthcare workers, while 38% disagree.
Murphy has consistently polled ahead of Ciattarelli, President Biden won New Jersey with 57.1 percent of the vote in the 2020 election, and there are a million more Democrats registered to vote than Republicans, so the GOP contender is probably doomed.
New Jersey is one of two states that hold statewide elections this year, although the Democratic stronghold has gotten far less attention than more competitive Virginia.
Registered voters who choose to vote by mail can drop their ballots in a secure ballot drop box or at their county’s board of elections office before 8 p.m. on Election Day.
Voters can also send their ballots in the mail, but they must be postmarked on or before 8 p.m. Nov. 2 and those ballots must be be received by the county’s Board of Elections by Nov. 8.
Citizens who vote by mail will not be able to return their ballots at in-person early voting poll locations or their Election Day poll locations.
Registered voters can also vote in-person on Election Day by visiting their local polling place between the hours of 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Nov. 2.