Wednesday, January 21, 2009

New Jersey in 2012

You have now entered the speculative zone. Oklahoma and Illinois were one thing, but this is quite another. FHQ finds it helpful to do exercises in hypotheticals from time to time, but this one may be a stretch. Yet, when I came across this discussion about New Jersey's 2009 governor's race, it triggered a memory of a recent addition to the law governing the Garden state's presidential primary.

Now bear with me here...

The bill (A3186) keeps the date of the now separate presidential primary on the same first-Tuesday-in-February date, but now allows for the secretary of state to shift the date should it coincide with a "period of religious observance" that imposes "a substantial burden on an individual's ability to vote."

Now, I'm not sure about what religious observances may pop up during the first week in Tuesday in February 2012. And I certainly don't see the state of New Jersey being motivated to shift its presidential primary again, especially since just the Republican nomination will be at stake. But what if New Jersey Republicans were able to unseat Democratic Governor Jon Corzine? It isn't likely to happen if you listen to the folks over at Daily Kos, but the catch here is that the office of secretary of state in New Jersey is not an elective office. It is a position appointed by the governor. If that governor was a Republican would the administration be motivated to move the primary forward -- likely in violation of either parties' rules -- thus challenging the language of the new law?

Yeah, I didn't think it was likely either. New Jersey would be a nice medium to large chunk of delegates for one well-positioned candidate after New Hampshire, though. It is a winner-take-all primary after all.

We'll see. My bet is that Arkansas moves back to May over New Jersey ultimately pulling the trigger on this scheme.


Recent Posts:
Out of Committee and On to the Floor: Back to May for the Arkansas Presidential Primary

Illinois in 2012

Inauguration Day

5 comments:

SarahLawrenceScott said...

I feel like taking this option would open New Jersey for lawsuits. Finding some obscure religious excuse for moving the primary would probably result in moving it to some date when there's some other obscure religious problem. And I feel like that gives the potential for real trouble...

Josh Putnam said...

I agree Scott.

It really is an odd addendum to the law. I suppose there was a problem last year with Fat Tuesday coinciding with Super Tuesday, but it isn't like that occurs on the first Tuesday in February regularly. Plus, I wasn't aware of any big Mardi Gras celebrations in New Jersey. Louisiana and southern Alabama (It was an issue in Mobile in the lead up to February 5 last year.) maybe. But New Jersey?

It is just strange. And it is also about step 39 in this scheme I've hatched. The first step may be the most difficult: beating Corzine. None of it matters if New Jersey Republicans can't accomplish that.

Jack said...

If there's a religious observance, can't the person vote absentee? Is there no absentee voting in primary elections? Or do some religious forbit absentee ballots?

Josh Putnam said...

Good question Jack. I'll look into that at lunch today and post what I find out.

Josh Putnam said...

New Jersey has "no excuse," mail-in absentee balloting. And as the New Jersey Division of Elections web page on absentee voting says, "Now there is no excuse not to vote!"

Here is a bit more background on the absentee regulations in New Jersey.

Really, all I think I've done here is open up a can of worms. What happened in 2008 that trigger the addition of this provision in the law? I have no idea, but I'll let you know if I find out.