The campaign to reelect President Donald Trump has sued New Jersey authorities after Gov. Phil Murphy issued an executive order facilitating widescale mail-in balloting for November’s elections, a practice the president has repeatedly criticized as fraught with fraud risk.
Murphy, a Democrat, on Friday ordered that every voter in New Jersey should be sent a blank ballot ahead of the general election, giving voters the option to vote in-person or by mail amid the pandemic.
The Republican National Committee and the New Jersey Republican State Committee joined the Trump campaign as plaintiffs in the lawsuit (pdf), which was filed in the U.S. District Court for New Jersey. It requests to have Murphy’s “Executive Order 177” declared unlawful and calls on the court to impose a permanent injunction prohibiting Murphy and New Jersey Secretary of State Tahesha Way from implementing and enforcing the order.
The suit claims Murphy exercised power that belonged to the state legislature in changing the state’s election law, and that the changes “will violate eligible citizens’ right to vote.”
Justin Clark, Trump’s deputy campaign manager, further detailed the rationale behind the suit in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal.
“First, Mr. Murphy appropriated power that belongs to the state Legislature when he unilaterally overhauled the state’s election law—violating both the Elections Clause and the Electors Clause of the U.S. Constitution,” Clark wrote.
“Second, his power grab violates New Jerseyans’ 14th Amendment right to vote,” he added.
Trump has said vote-by-mail is susceptible to large-scale fraud.
“Absentee ballots are the tools of choice of election fraudsters because they are voted outside the supervision of election officials, making it easier to steal, forge, or alter them, as well as to intimidate voters,” wrote Heritage Foundation Senior Legal Fellow Hans A. von Spakovsky, in an op-ed.
The Heritage Foundation’s own database of all reported instances of election fraud, dating back to 1979, lists only 1,277 “proven instances of voter fraud,” though the organization’s Communications Manager told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement that “the database is only intended to represent a small sampling of the types of voter fraud that can occur–it is by no means a comprehensive report of all the voter fraud that happens around the country.”
Clark, in his op-ed, wrote: “The governor has quipped that New Jersey has ‘a higher probability of being hit by lightning than we do uncovering voter fraud.’ The reality? A 2016 investigation found 2,460 voters on the rolls who had been dead for at least five years, nearly 60 of whom had apparently cast votes after they died. In two cases from Hoboken, defendants were convicted of bribing voters with cash in exchange for their mail ballots.”
New Jersey will use methods similar to what it employed for its primary vote in July, Murphy said last week, with improvements based on lessons learned then.
“We’re going to have more presence of secure drop boxes, make sure there is that physical in-voting capacity,” he had said, referring to in-person voting.
Residents who opt to go to their local polling places on Nov. 3 will do so in “provisional voting,” meaning they must use paper ballots, not voting machines, so that officials can guard against duplicate voting, Murphy said.
Clark argued that Murphy’s order “relegates in-person voting—the most secure method—to second-class status by deeming every ballot cast at a polling place ‘provisional,'” adding that this raises the risk that ballots cast by people who choose to vote in person will not be counted. He pointed to reports that in New Jersey’s May primary, about one in ten mail-in ballots were rejected, feeding into concerns about potential voter disenfranchisement.
Election officials in most states have encouraged at-home voting as the highly contagious nature of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus has made voting in person a concern.
Trump’s reelection campaign, along with the Republic National Committee and Nevada Republicans, earlier this month sued Nevada to block a law that will send a mail-in ballot to every voter before November’s election, saying it will result in “inevitable” voter fraud.
Reuters contributed to this report.