Governor Phil Murphy is issuing an executive order that moves all upcoming elections to coincide with the general election on November 3rd, 2020.
Murphy’s order effectively moves the 2nd Ward special election to November 3. A legal opinion issued by a municipal attorney last month had stated New Jersey law required the 2nd Ward election be held on August 15. Murphy’s order suspends that statutory requirement.
“Given the public health challenges of in-person voting in a pandemic and frankly the cost and logistical challenges of all mail-in voting this is also a prudent and necessary step,” said Murphy on Monday afternoon.
There were no winners in the three-person 2nd Ward race that was held in May. Then-incumbent Shahin Khalique and his main rival Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman were tied. Each received 1,730 after three recounts. The third candidate, Frank Filippelli, received 446 votes.
Akhtaruzzaman welcomed the governor’s decision. Khalique could not be reached for comment.
The 2nd Ward race was filled with voter fraud and irregularities. Two of Khalique’s campaign workers, including his brother Shelim Khalique, were charged with voter fraud. Both campaign workers mishandled mail-in ballots, authorities said last month.
The municipal elections were solely vote-by-mail affairs because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Khalique and Akhtaruzzaman will vie for the seat in November. Both men have already started to campaign for the council seat.
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