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The Governor Doesn’t Have the Authority to Unilaterally Alter General Election by Executive Order

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Trenton NJ, Senator Michael Doherty said the New Jersey Constitution doesn’t authorize Governor Phil Murphy to issue an Executive Order that unilaterally changes the manner in which voters will cast their ballots this November.

Doherty pointed to Article II, Section I of the New Jersey Constitution, which says: “General elections shall be held annually on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November; but the time of holding such elections may be altered by law.”

“While our state constitution makes clear that the scope of elections can be altered by law, there is no provision for a governor to bypass the Legislature through executive order to change the way our elections are held,” said Doherty (R-23). “Yet that is exactly what Governor Murphy has sought to do through Executive Order 177 which directs the general election in November to held almost exclusively by mail. A change as substantive as preventing voters in a presidential election from casting their ballots in person must be approved by the Legislature and accomplished by the enactment of a statute. If the Murphy administration can make the case that closing polling centers is warranted, they should have no problem selling that to a Democrat-controlled Legislature and getting this done the right way.”

Doherty highlighted some examples of concerning language in Executive Order No. 177 that would appear to be outside the governor’s authority:

The requirements of N.J.S.A. 19:14-25 that sample ballots be sent shall be suspended.

The Secretary of State may modify the requirements of N.J.S.A. 19:31-21 concerning the use of poll books…

The time restrictions of N.J.S.A. 19:63-9 shall be modified as follows…

…the requirements of N.J.S.A. 19:59-15(d) shall be suspended and the ballot-return deadline in N.J.S.A. 19:63-22 shall be suspended.

“I’d like for Governor Murphy to explain how he can unilaterally modify or suspend a host of statutes without legislative approval,” said Doherty. “In my estimation as a legislator who believes in the separation of powers, the governor simply doesn’t have that authority to rewrite or ignore laws as he sees fit, even if his intentions are sincere. Like dozens of other efforts that the legislative and executive branches have collaborated on since March to improve New Jersey’s ability to respond to COVID-19, any changes to our elections that conflict with existing statutory law must be accomplished through the regular legislative process. Anything less would reduce the confidence of many New Jerseyans that our elections are being conducted in a fair manner that protects their vote.”

Further, Doherty questioned how voting in person at a polling center is any different than other regular activities that are undertaken safely by New Jerseyans every day.

“Back in March, the governor’s fear mongering worked to keep everyone home at great cost to our economy and the financial well-being of millions of New Jerseyans,” added Doherty. “People who once were scared to leave their homes under the governor’s dire warnings today have no problem going to Walmart or Target or countless other places where they spend hours in public. Allowing New Jerseyans to spend five minutes casting their votes at their regular polling center is less risky than going to the grocery store. If anyone doesn’t want to take the risk of entering a voting booth, our laws already allow them to request a mail-in ballot. There is no legitimate reason for Governor Murphy to deny people the right to cast their votes in the manner they prefer.”


42 thoughts on “The Governor Doesn’t Have the Authority to Unilaterally Alter General Election by Executive Order

  1. So why he not doing something to stop the governor from making it mandatory that we have to vote by mail . I and others believe we want to vote in person at polling sites.

  2. If the Governor is not allowed to direct us all to vote by mail why is this not being stopped? Those capable of putting a halt to this need to step up NOW.

  3. Excellent article. I also believe this will to cost Booker many votes in the initial. Re: Many dorms are shut down due to COVID. That means their Official Ballot will be stuck in some dormitory mail-room in late October. So, they’ll vote in-person. This is where Murphy’s In-Person, Provisional Ballot Only mandate will bite Booker… All of these in-person votes will NOT be counted on Election Day. They must first go back to County and reconciled against the Official Ballot (which are …. still in the Dormitory!) Initial returns will show low numbers, and remain low throughout November.

  4. A. Murphy is not closing in-person polling. This will be a hybrid election. What restrictions will be placed on in-person voting will be made up for with drastically expanded mail-in voting.

    B. This shouldn’t keep having to be said, but there is STILL a pandemic. In-person voting is a serious risk.

    C. As always, I remain eager to hear NJ Republicans’ alternative options for the unparalleled health crisis their national crisis has placed us all in.

    1. if we can protests, stand in line for 8 hours at the NJMVC and shop in Target or grocery stores we can vote in person

  5. Thank You for clarifying this very important point of law. Now we need legislators to move forward and block any further attempts to side step the state legislators legal right to fight him on this issue.

  6. If they can protest about the post office, we certainly can vote in a booth. You have the power to do so, and we the people mandate that you stop him and protect our constitutional rights. If you want an absentee ballot, then request one. Let the rest of us vote as we always have, and it is our right to do so.

  7. As a senior citizen I don’t want my right to vote in person taken away from me. This is a violation of my civil rights. Those afraid to go in person can request an absentee ballot. Enough said!

  8. People need to just stop the BS. They galivant all over wearing a mask and reuse the same one for weeks on end. Rarely social distance and use curbside to their lazy advantage. Voting must only be done in a voting booth. 90% of the people are milking the system. The other 10% are legitamitly frightened and should be allowed absentee voting. Enough is enough! We are becoming a Communistic society already and this is more frightening than any virus. I believe this was biological warfare, plain and simple. People will die and the lucky will survive. Now is the time for Americans to fight for our Country and the ideals our forefathers had intended, not this “new” Soros envisioned America!

  9. You don’t feel safe voting in person? Then don’t! You want to do absentee ballot then do that! I want to go and vote in person! I will wear a mask and place my vote that should take all of 5 minutes! He couldn’t get unemployment straightened out and the DMV is a mess! Nope! Not trusting to get this right!

  10. Has anyone’s antennas gone up as to why this mail in only is so urgent to Democrats? Intuitively, I get suspicious.

  11. This is beyond obvious as to why every single democrat wants mail in voting, come on people enough of this B.S. we vote in person at a voting booth if you are hell bent on cheating an election you should be in prison!

  12. To anyone commenting on the dangers of in person voting, I hope you don’t leave your houses for anything at all. Bc that can be dangerous also. And considering voting takes about 5 minutes, it would seem to be the least dangerous thing you do all day.

  13. I want in person voting. Murphy’s got to go.

  14. We demand that this be straightened out! Those that have no problem voting in person should be able to. If ur too afraid to leave ur house to vote request and absentee ballot! Stop with the BS and let us do our civic duty the way we’re personally see fit! We are still in America to make a choice. We are not a Communistic country! Worst Governor we have ever had! Remember to vote him out in Nov 2021! 🇺🇸

  15. Our privacy for whom we choose to vote for when standing in the voting booth is being stripped away. Someone will be opening our in-person provisional and mail-in ballots with all our personal information layed bare.

  16. “A. Murphy is not closing in-person polling. This will be a hybrid election. What restrictions will be placed on in-person voting will be made up for with drastically expanded mail-in voting.”

    In-person voting will be limited to provisional paper ballots that will not be counted until it is determined that those same people have not already submitted ballots by mail, which could take weeks or months to accomplish. Only disabled people who cannot use and/or submit written ballots by mail will be permitted to use the actual voting machines which register their votes instantly. Every voter has the right to have their vote recorded immediately; that restriction on individual voting rights is in no way made up for by expanded mail-in voting. That is comparing apples to oranges.

  17. Democrats know that this is the ONLY way they can steal, I mean win, the election. If we are stopped from voting in person I can only imagine what kind of uproar will take place. You think we have problems now wait until the election becomes a mess with mail in voting. No One will be safe in the streets of America. No One.

  18. What Murphy is doing in denying our right to vote in person is against our constitutional right & going above the law should be addressed by our representatives in the state government. If this isn’t straightened out before October, I am calling Washington to protest that our Governor has overstepped his right!

  19. Dr Fauci said we can Vote in Person, end of issue. I demand to vote by machine, so that we ALL get a timely accurate vote!

  20. Even though Murphy said 1 polling place per town will be open he is making all walk in polling place voters sign a provisional ballot which slows things down and may keep these walk in voters at the polling place for an extended period of time. Every state in the country should open up polling places as they have in the past and leave it up to the voter to decide where and how they vote either by mail or in person. GIVE US THE CHOICE

  21. We have the right to keep our vote selections private . Mail in ballots strip us of that right and we must fight this intrusion Call your NJ Reps and Senators and demand they stop this now !,

  22. This is a blatant misuse of the governor, i say demand that he be removed from office today. Do not wait on this, all Republican senators need to step up and demand his removal now. As for the 10 billion he wants, again this needs to be stopped asap. Could keep going but this not the forum.

  23. Vote in person and on machines, no paper ballots!

  24. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!! The citizens of new jersey need to finally do something!

  25. So what is the recourse? No solution to this? We have laws but they don’t count when an authority says they don’t? What do we do about this? An entire family were thrown off a plane because the 2 year old wouldn’t wear the mask. What the heck is happening?

  26. @Kathy, this is why this country is done with. Law & order doesn’t exist anymore. These governors and mayors behave like kings and do what they like while violating laws and worst is that nobody holds them accountable. It is a total chaos. NJ republicans are so weak it makes me throw up.

  27. He wasn’t allowed to borrow 10 billion to pay debts but they let him anyway. The law only pertains to the people. Politicians do whatever they please. What a joke.

  28. He wasn’t allowed to borrow 10 billion to pay debts but they let him anyway. The law only pertains to the people. Politicians do whatever they please. What a joke.


  30. Masks are not required to vote in person. So those thinking that’s better and safe is wrong. Bring the voting machines back. If you are blind you can vote in the machine and they hand you a qtip to vote with. Open the machines and we’ll use a pen to push the buttons with.

  31. No flag will be a hammer and sickle if this keeps up.

  32. That’s a NJ flag to become a hammer and sickle if this keeps up.

  33. Murphy needs to step down if the Constitution is above his pay grade (in his own words) We the people want to go to poles!!! If we can stand in line starting at 5am for DMV we can stand in line to vote!!!! Open NJ

  34. Why is it so important to vote in-person, if mail-ins are allowed? You people are such whiners.

    1. guess you never heard of Paterson

  35. Yes and they got caught, so in addition to voter fraud being rare as it is (, this case shows that the safeguards in place work (

    Fancy that – government oversight doing what it should. We should probably have smaller of that thing.

  36. If the Constitution wanted us to vote by Mail it would of said so ,,, didn;t say any-thing about voting for Biden either , do not think it is legal for him to “Run”

  37. If the Constitution wanted us to vote by Mail it would of said so ,,, didn;t say any-thing about voting for Biden either , do not think it is legal for him to “Run”

  38. I want to vote in person in a machine !

  39. To commenter Sean Curry: your logic is illogical. Murphy denying citizens “the right” to vote in person is shutting down poll stations.

    Shopping at Target, getting your latte at Starbucks and going to the DMV to renew your license are privileges. Voting is a right. Learn the difference.

    How do we vote in person safely you ask? The same we we do everything else in person. Wear a mask, keep your distance and if this scares you, then request a vote by mail for yourself and stay home.

    It’s obvious why leftists like you staunchly defend this unconstitutional order. “By any means necessary.”

  40. This post has been hijacked by the neighborhood kids. Jack H . . . that you doing this?

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