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New Jersey Primary Will Be Primarily Vote-By-Mail Election As COVID-19-Related Deaths Eclipse 10,000

TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) -- Gov. Phil Murphy announced Friday that the state's primary slated for July 7 will be primarily a vote-by-mail election. This announcement comes as the number of COVID-19-related deaths eclipsed 10,000.

Murphy is reminding residents they can still cast their ballots while social distancing. But he's aware there are voters who would prefer to cast their ballot in person.

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"For in-person voting, we plan to require at least one polling location to be open in each municipality, and social distancing protocols will be enforced within these polling locations," Murphy said.

Murphy says that all registered Democratic and Republican voters will receive a postage-paid vote-by-mail ballot and that all unaffiliated and inactive voters will also receive a ballot application.

"They know that their vote is sacred and that right is sacred and they want to make sure they can exercise it safely and confidently even through this pandemic," Jesse Burns, executive director of League of Women Voters in New Jersey, said.

Burns understands there is some concern when it comes to residents mailing in their ballots, which is why the league and more than 30 other organizations sent recommendations to the administration.

"One of those recommendations was making sure that voters had secure ballot drop boxes available so that they don't have to rely on putting it in their home mailbox and they can have more confidence," Burns said.

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Murphy says voting by mail is a necessity amid the coronavirus pandemic and the League of Women Voters of New Jersey agrees.

"We're still kind of having these conversations as we go along about what we can do to make sure that every single vote counts, that nobody is disenfranchised," Burns said.

Murphy says for those who choose to vote in person, there will be sanitization of the machines in between votes.

The deadline for which votes must be received by a county board of elections has been extended from 48 hours after the polls close to seven days after the polls close, but it must be postmarked by July 7.

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