Questions, answers about NJ's primary election

May 17, 2009 1:09:45 PM PDT
New Jersey residents go to the polls June 2 to vote in primary elections. Here are some questions and answers about the election:


Q: What is a primary?

A: It's an election to determine who each party's candidates will be in the general election.

Q: Who's on the ballot?

A: It depends upon your party. The marquee race in New Jersey this year is for governor.

Republicans can choose among former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan and Assemblyman Rick Merkt. On the Democratic side, incumbent Gov. Jon Corzine is being challenged by Roger Bacon, Carol Bergmanson and Jeff Boss.

The governor's race, Republican or Democrat, is the only statewide contest on the ballot. But candidates are also running for State Assembly in all 40 legislative districts, and there are special elections for state Senate seats in three districts.

Several cities, including Camden and Atlantic City, have Democratic mayoral races on the primary ballot.

Q. How many people from my party can win a primary for an Assembly seat?

A: There are two representatives in the Assembly for each district. That means up to two candidates per party can be elected in the primary.

Q: What about lieutenant governor?

A: That's a new job in New Jersey. After the primary, the gubernatorial candidates will select their running mates. They will run on the same ticket in November.

Q: Which primary can I vote in?

A: Voters can cast ballots only in the primaries of their own party, and it's too late to switch parties if you are registered to one. But unaffiliated voters - there are a lot of them in New Jersey - can join a party as late as Election Day and still vote. To declare a party, voters must file a form with their county commissioner of election registration or their municipal clerk.

Q: Is it too late to register to vote in the primary?

A: Yes. The deadline was May 12. But eligible voters (residents of New Jersey who are at least 18 years old, and not serving a sentence in jail, prison, on parole or probation) have until Oct. 13 to register for the Nov. 3 general election.

Q: Can I vote in the primary by absentee ballot?

A: Yes, any registered voter may vote by absentee ballot. You do not need to be out of town or unable to make it to your polling place on Election Day. Ballots are available at These ballots can be mailed up to 7 days before the election, or delivered to the county clerk by 3 p.m. on Election Day.

Q: Where can I get additional voting information?

A: Information is available at the state Division of Elections Web site, and by phone at 1-877-NJVOTER.

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