Murphy’s bill to weaponize N.J. election law passes Assembly thanks to GOP defections

Welcome to New Jersey politics, Save Jerseyans. The house always wins!

On Thursday, a hugely controversial bill granting Governor Phil Murphy control of New Jersey elections without a check on his power passed by a relatively narrow margin (a mere 45 votes in favor). The laughably named ‘Election Transparency Act’ now heads to Murphy’s desk and it’s so egregious even by Trenton standards that the entire membership of the N.J Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) resigned in protest following the legislation’s Assembly passage. Two Democrat members even voted against it.

Incredibly, despite strong opposition from most of the GOP caucus, the legislation was rescued by six Republicans:

Don Guardian and Claire Swift of LD2 (Atlantic County), Michael Torrissi and Brandon Umba of LD8 (dominated by Burlington County), Kevin Rooney of LD39 (Bergen County, where he is being replaced by Al Barlas on the ticket for 2023) and DiAnne Gove of LD9 (who recently decided to abandon her reelection bid after losing the Ocean County GOP convention).

Consequently, the Dems only needed to supply 39 votes of their own to pass the bill.

Here’s the final tally:


All four new ELEC commissioner – whoever they are, but you can bet they’ll think like King Phil – will be directly appointed by the governor and his team. They will directly influence the enforcement (or lack thereof) of election law in New Jersey in the coming elections. The Murphy Democrats now have one more distinct and unfair advantage over any attempt at a vibrant opposition.

The GOP is actually hoping to have a shot at control of the lower chamber this November.

Will it matter unless they can win a defection-proof majority? Something that just isn’t mathematically feasible on the current map? You couldn’t be blamed for wondering…

Matt Rooney
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MATT ROONEY is's founder and editor-in-chief, a practicing New Jersey attorney, and the host of 'The Matt Rooney Show' on 1210 WPHT every Sunday evening from 7-10PM EST.