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Election Law @ Moritz

Election Law @ Moritz

2008 Key Questions for Key States

New Jersey

The complete research by Election Law @ Moritz for New Jersey can be found below.

Institutional Arrangements

State Chief Election Authorities

Democratic appointee

Chief election authority: The state attorney general is charged with most of the duties associated with Chief election authorities. N.J.S.A. 19:8-3.1 et seq; 19:12-1 et seq. However, note that the legislature has passed a bill that would put responsibility for elections in the hands of the elected Secretary of State if signed into law. NJ considers taking elections away from attorney general, AP Alert - New Jersey, December 27, 2007.

Method of selection: Appointed by governor. Const. Art V., § 4.

Current officer: Anne Milgram (D). Immigration becomes a campaign issue locally, Press of Atlantic City (NJ), August 27, 2007. (Last updated 1/1/08)

State High Court Composition

Unknown affiliation/appointed

Method of selection: Gubernatorial appointment with advice and consent of the Senate. Const., Art. VI, § VI.

Justices: Barry T. Albin (D), Stuart Rabner (D), John E. Wallace, Jr. (appointed by D), Virginia Long (D), Roberto A. Rivera-Soto (R), Jaynee LaVecchia (unaffiliated), Helen E. Hoens (R) (Last updated 12/22/07)


  • Justices hear partisans argue over borrowing in state budget, The Star-Ledger (Newark), July 23, 2004.
  • Corzine urges Gill to explain block on chief justice nominee, AP Alert – New Jersey, June 19, 2007, NJ 05:45:50.
  • Top court’s dynamic duo is never out of order: Justices liven up sessions with their repartee and tag-team tactics, The Star-Ledger (Newark), December 16, 2007.
  • Party Lines are No Guide to Opinions by Justices, New York Times, October 26, 2006.
  • A motion for new justice: She praises her autistic Helen Hoens takes heartfelt oath of office, The Star-Ledger (Newark), December 1, 2006.

Voter Registration

EL@M did not research this topic for New Jersey


EL@M did not research this topic for New Jersey

Provisional Ballots

EL@M did not research this topic for New Jersey

Early and Absentee Voting

EL@M did not research this topic for New Jersey

Voting Technology

EL@M did not research this topic for New Jersey

Polling Place Operations

Polling hours extension

No information

Polling hours are 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. NJSA 19:15-2. No information regarding extension of polling hours was found.

Voters in line at the close of polls will be allowed to vote. NJSA 19:15-2; In re General Election of November 5, 1991 for the Office of Commitee of the Township of Maplewood, Essex County, 605 A.2d 1164, 1173 (N.J.Super.L., 1992).

Polling place closing times - local times

8:00 PM local time

Polling place closing times - by Eastern time zone

8:00 PM Eastern time

Ballot Security

EL@M did not research this topic for New Jersey

Emergency Preparedness

EL@M did not research this topic for New Jersey

Post-Election Processes

Election Contest Scenario #1: Unverified Ballots


New Jersey requires voters to sign in before casting their ballots. §19:31A-7. However, there is very little law considering the result when this requirement is not followed.

There is one case that hints that failure of voters to sign the poll books probably renders the resulting ballots ineligible to be counted. In Application of Murphy, 101 N.J.Super. 163 (N.J.Super. A.D., 1968), the court refused to declare illegal a number of ballots where the number exceeded the number of voting slips that had been issued. Id. at 170. However, one of the reasons that it refused to do so was that the plaintiff failed to prove that the number of ballots cast also exceeded the number of individuals who had signed the poll book. This suggests the court would have declared the disputed ballots illegal if they had exceeded the poll book in number.

On the other hand, the New Jersey Supreme Court has held that failure of precinct workers to compare incoming voters signatures against those on file, as opposed to failure to get the voters to sign, will not affect the result of an election because the requirement is merely directory. Petition of Clee, 196 A. 476, 483 (N.J.Sup. 1938).

Assuming the ballots are ineligible to be counted, the court is then confronted with the question of what remedy to provide. The ineligible ballots would probably be commingled with eligible ones and it would be impossible to tell for what candidate the ineligible ballots were cast. The New Jersey Supreme Court has held that the election should be set aside under such circumstances where the disputed ballots exceeded the margin of victory. Application of Dorgan, 44 N.J. 440, 441 (N.J., 1965).  

Election Contest Scenario #2: Provisional Ballots with Technical Mistakes


New Jersey law does not go into the details of whether errors on provisional ballot paperwork will invalidate ballots, but only says that officials should “determine if a provisional ballot voter is legally entitled to have voted and if a provisional ballot conforms to the requirements established by law.” § 19:53C-13.  

What Court Would Hear a Presidential Contest?

Trial Court

New Jersey authorizes election contests generally. N.J.S.A. 19:29-2. The Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court appoints a Superior Court judge to hear Presidential election contests. Superior Courts are a type of trial court. The Governor nominates and appoints, with the advice and consent of the Senate, the Chief Justice and associate justices of the Supreme Court, the Judges of the Superior Court, and the judges of the inferior courts with jurisdiction extending to more than one municipality. N.J. Const., Art. VI, Sec. VI, Para. 1.

Who Performs Presidential recounts?


County boards of election conduct recounts under the supervision of judges of local Superior Courts. 19:28-3. County boards consist of four individuals, two from each major political party. 19:6-17. Members of county boards are nominated by the political parties and appointed by the governor. 19:6-18. Superior Court judges are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate. NJSA Const. Art. 6, s 6, P 1.