Candidates and questions on the New Jersey ballot

The New Jersey state flag.

Election Day 2020 is Tuesday, Nov. 3. The marquee matchup on this year's ballot in New Jersey is, of course, the presidential race featuring Republican Donald Trump, Democrat Joe Biden, and some third-party candidates. 

New Jersey also has one other statewide race: Sen. Cory Booker, a Democrat, is running for reelection. All seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are on the line as well. Also, several state Senate and state Assembly seats are on the ballot.

New Jersey voters will also have to consider three referendum questions. The big one is over recreational marijuana use. The others are about property taxes and redistricting as related to the U.S. Census.

Here is a summary of the candidates and questions:

STATEWIDE RACES

U.S. PRESIDENT (Candidate for vice president in italics)

  • Donald J. Trump, Republican Party (incumbent); Michael R. Pence
  • Joseph R. Biden, Democratic Party; Kamala D. Harris
  • Howie Hawkins, Green Party; Angela Walker
  • Jo Jorgensen, Libertarian Party; Spike Cohen

You can learn more about the candidates for president at Ballotpedia.org, a nonprofit and nonpartisan reference on American politics and elections.

Note: These candidates qualified for the New Jersey ballot but did not make it onto the ballots of enough states to win a majority in the Electoral College: Don Blankenship, Roque "Rocky" De La Fuente, Bill Hammons, and Gloria Estela La Riva.

U.S. SENATOR

  • Cory Booker, Democratic Party (incumbent)
  • Rikin "Rik" Mehta, Republican Party
  • Daniel Burke, Larouche Was Right Party
  • Veronica Fernandez, Of, By, For! Party
  • Madelyn R. Hoffman, Green Party

You can learn more about the candidates for senator at Ballotpedia.org.

OFFICIAL PUBLIC QUESTIONS

The Public Questions, a.k.a. referendum questions, are proposed changes to the state's constitution. Voters choose either "Yes" to support the change or "No" to oppose the amendment.

PUBLIC QUESTION NO. 1: Legalize Marijuana

In 2019, New Jersey looked poised to legalize the recreational use of marijuana with support from Gov. Phil Murphy and the leaders of the Assembly and Senate, all Democrats. But they failed to get enough lawmakers on board. Instead, Trenton agreed to put the issue directly to voters. 

If the measure passes, the state's constitution would be amended and the commission that oversees the medical marijuana program would also establish the market for recreational use.

NJ Can 2020, a coalition of groups, supports the effort and plans a digital ad campaign to encourage voters to pick "Yes." On the other side, a group called Don't Let NJ Go To Pot opposes the question and urges a "No" vote.

Text of the question: Do you approve amending the Constitution to legalize a controlled form of marijuana called "cannabis"? Only adults at least 21 years of age could use cannabis. The State commission created to oversee the State's medical cannabis program would also oversee the new, personal use cannabis market. Cannabis products would be subject to the State sales tax. If authorized by the Legislature, a municipality may pass a local ordinance to charge a local tax on cannabis products.

You can learn more about this ballot question at ballotpedia.org.

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PUBLIC QUESTION NO. 2: Property Tax Deduction and Exemption for Peacetime Veterans

Currently, the state offers a $250 property tax deduction to veterans of the U.S. military that served in wartime. If this measure passes, the constitution would be amended to expand the deduction to veterans who served only in peacetime.

Text of the question: Do you approve amending the Constitution to give a $250 property tax deduction to veterans who did not serve in time of war? Do you also approve amending the Constitution to give a 100 percent property tax exemption to certain totally disabled veterans who did not serve in time of war? The widow or widower of these veterans also would receive this $250 deduction or 100 percent exemption after the veteran's death.

You can learn more about this ballot question here.

PUBLIC QUESTION NO. 3: Change the Legislative Redistricting Schedule If Census Data Is Delayed

Every 10 years, the federal government, via the U.S. Census Bureau, counts everyone in the United States. The feds compile the data and release it to the states, which then redraw their legislative districts.

Under the New Jersey constitution, a state commission is required to pass a legislative redistricting plan within a month of getting the census data. Under federal law, the Census Bureau's deadline to do this is April 1, 2021. But that may not happen. Reason: the coronavirus pandemic.

The Census Bureau has asked Congress to extend the deadline to July 31, 2021, due to delays blamed on the pandemic. If that happens, New Jersey would not be able to redraw districts in time for the state's primaries for the Nov. 2, 2021, general election. 

This ballot question asks voters for permission to postpone redistricting until after the 2021 election if (and only if) the state receives the federal census data after Feb. 15, 2021.

Text of the question: Do you approve amending the Constitution to change when new legislative districts are created if the federal census data is delayed? The current COVID-19 pandemic has delayed census data collection. If New Jersey does not receive the census data in a timely manner, new legislative districts may not be ready in time for State legislative elections in the year ending in one. This change to the redistricting schedule will allow legislators to be elected that year from their existing districts for their two-year term in office. The new districts will be used starting with the next scheduled general election for the State legislature.

You can learn more about this ballot question here.

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This year's general election in New Jersey will largely take place by mail. To find out how to register to vote, read this resource; you can now register online. Also, this article outlines the important dates for this election cycle as well as how to vote by mail. You can access the state's voter information portal here.

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SOURCES: NJ.gov, Ballotpedia.org, The Associated Press, FOX5NY.com