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NJ Urging Voters to Mail Primary Ballots

(The Center Square) – A limited number of polling places will be open for New Jersey’s July 7 primary, but the majority of votes cast are expected to be by mail, Gov. Phil Murphy said.

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Residents who are affiliated with the Democratic or Republican party will receive a postage-paid ballot in the mail, while those without a party affiliation will receive a ballot application, Murphy said at his Friday news conference.

“In addition to the Unites States Postal Service, we will also require counties to distribute secure drop boxes for voters to turn in their completed ballots,” Murphy said.

Each municipality and at least 50 percent of each county’s polling places will be open July 7. Social distancing and sanitization will be enforced, according to the governor.

Counties will have seven days after the polls closed to count the ballots.

“Our goals are two-fold,” Murphy said. “To maximize our democracy while minimizing the risk of illness. We want everyone to participate in a safe and fully democratic process.”

Murphy also announced $50 million from the federal CARES Act will go directly to fund small businesses. New Jersey received $1.8 billion in CARES Act fund to help the state recover from losses due to the virus spread.

COVID-19 has slowed the state’s and the nation’s economy. The medical community has also been affected as elective surgical and other invasive procedures have been put on hold.

The governor issued an executive order allowing those procedures to resume May 26. The Department of Health and Consumer Affairs will issue guidance Monday.

Murphy cited himself as an example of why the decision is “good for public health.” The governor had a tumor removed from his kidney March 4 that was diagnosed as malignant. On March 23, he suspended all elective surgeries. A physician could not have performed that surgery after March 23 due to the executive order.

New COVID-19 cases are declining, but the state reached a grim number on Friday. An additional 201 deaths were reported which moved the number of cases to more than 10,000.

The number of new hospitalizations is down 69 percent from April 4 and the number of patients in intensive care or critical care units are down 42 percent. Positive COVID-19 test results at long-term care facilities are declining but the state continues to monitor them as more than half of the deaths were residents.

New Jersey continues to lead all U.S. states in hospitalizations per 100,000 and deaths per 100,000, Murphy said.

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