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Election Denial in New Jersey

  • 0 Election Deniers currently hold statewide office with election oversight power.

  • 0 Election Deniers have held, or run for, statewide office since 2020.

The landscape in New Jersey

The state of New Jersey launched an online portal in 2020 to fight misinformation and disinformation about Covid-19. Since then, it has expanded to educate citizens about how to spot conspiracy theories, who spreads them, and why. One report examines how domestic extremists use disinformation about elections to promote political violence.  

Elsewhere, on the national stage, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has been among the most full-throated of the presidential candidates in opposing Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 election. Christie said in 2021 that those election lies were a “red line” in his relationship with Trump, and he has blamed Trump’s lies for inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

None of New Jersey’s state officials are Election Deniers, but the state has not been immune from the Election Denier movement. In a poll taken a month after the 2020 election, three-quarters of the state’s Republicans believed there had been widespread voter fraud. And New Jersey’s Rep. Jeff Van Drew was among the 147 members of Congress who voted to overturn 2020 election results.

0 Election Deniers hold statewide Office right now.

Elections are run by the states. The Governor, Attorney General, and Secretary of State are the state officials responsible for overseeing elections. In New Jersey, unlike many other states, the Secretary of State is appointed by the Governor. It’s up to them to make sure the will of the people is always respected.

Read more about The Roles of Our Elected Officials in Elections

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Election Deniers

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How New Jersey compares

Every state runs its own elections, with its own laws and processes. Check out how New Jersey compares with other states in its region when it comes to Election Deniers holding state election administration jobs.

Election Denial in Mideast States

Sitting official is an Election Denier

  1. In Delaware, the Governor appoints the State Commissioner of Elections.
  2. In Washington, D.C., the Executive Director is appointed by the District of Columbia Board of Elections.
  3. In Maryland, the Administrator of Elections is appointed by the Maryland State Board of Elections.
  4. In New Jersey, the Governor appoints the Secretary of State.
  5. In New York, the Co-Executive Directors are appointed by the New York State Board of Elections.
  6. In Pennsylvania, the Governor appoints the Secretary of the Commonwealth.

Voter turnout over time

Voters are always the backstop against election denial, whether Election Deniers are already in office or vying for power. It’s important to turn out for every election in your state—and to vote in every race on your ballot. Downballot races, like contests for Attorney General and Secretary of State, have historically drawn fewer voters, even though the positions are critical to keeping elections free, fair, and secure. Here’s a look at voter participation in New Jersey elections over time. Notice that in years with several important positions up for election, some voters choose not to vote in every race.

Voter Participation in New Jersey Since 2016

Attorney General
Secretary of State
  1. 2016 Presidential

    • President had a 64% voter turnout rate

  2. 2017 Off-year

    • Governor had a 35% voter turnout rate

  3. 2018 Midterm

    • Senator had a 52% voter turnout rate

  4. 2020 Presidential

    • President had a 74% voter turnout rate

    • Senator had a 72% voter turnout rate

  5. 2021 Off-year

    • Governor had a 41% voter turnout rate

Voter turnout

Data on the number of votes cast in each race are from state elections depositories, supplemented with data from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), House Election Statistics, and The Book of States. Rates are calculated using the Census’s Citizen Voting Age Population (CVAP) estimates. Rates will be updated when the Census releases new CVAP data for 2022.

Beyond the ballot box

Each year, state legislators introduce thousands of bills related to elections. And in the past few years, we’ve identified a concerning trend. Across the country, state legislatures are considering bills that would make it easier for partisan actors to manipulate an election, and maybe even overturn the will of the people. We’re tracking these bills along with our partners in an ongoing series of reports called “A Democracy Crisis in the Making.” In 2023 alone, through early May, we tracked 185 bills introduced in 38 state legislatures that would politicize, criminalize, or interfere with elections. 

The anti-democracy playbook is simple: change the rules and change the referees, in order to change the results. These bills go hand-in-hand with the Election Denier movement: They’re about taking power away from voters and making it harder for trusted election officials to do their jobs.

Read the full report

Legislative Interference in New Jersey by Category

As of May 3, 2023, 4 bills had been introduced or were under consideration in New Jersey. None have been enacted or adopted and none have been vetoed after passing.

These bills show that the threat to elections in New Jersey, and all across the country, goes well beyond the ballot box.

  • Imposing disproportionate criminal or other penalties.
    These bills would create or expand penalties for election officials in the ordinary execution of their jobs, including criminalizing inadvertent mistakes.
  • Creating unworkable burdens in election administration.
    These bills would interfere with the basic procedures of election administration, increasing the risk of chaos and delay and enabling misleading claims of irregularity.
  • Usurping control over election results.
    These bills would give legislators or other state officials direct control over election outcomes.
  • Requiring partisan or unprofessional election “audits” or reviews.
    These bills would establish vague post-election review schemes without the professional standards of traditional audits.
  • Seizing power over election responsibilities.
    These bills would shift election administration responsibilities away from professional, nonpartisan officials and toward partisan actors in the legislature.