2 days left in New Jersey's first ever early in-person voting; governor, Legislature up for election

TRENTON, N.J. (WABC) -- New Jersey's first ever early in-person voting wraps up Sunday, with more than 500,000 mail-in and in-person votes already cast, for Tuesday's election in which voters will elect the governor and Legislature.

The top of the ticket features Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy against Republican former Assembly member Jack Ciattarelli. All 120 seats in the Assembly and Senate are also on the ballot, and along with them control of the Legislature.

Voters will also weigh in on two ballot questions.

Early in-person voting went from Oct. 23 through Oct. 31 for the first time under a bill Murphy signed last year. Mail-in ballots can be returned up until Election Day, which is Tuesday.

A closer look at the contests and what's at stake:

GOVERNOR

Murphy's first-term agenda faces a test from voters.

He's delivered on many of the promises he made during his first run in 2017: paid sick leave, a phased-in $15 minimum wage, more funding for women's health care, taxpayer-financed community college, recreational marijuana, and more state aid for education and the public pension - paid for in part by higher taxes on incomes over $1 million and on businesses.

His management of the state during the COVID-19 outbreak is also front and center.

Polls show him leading his challenger, Ciattarelli, who's making the case that he would lower taxes and put an end to mask and vaccine mandates.

No Democrat has been reelected governor in New Jersey since 1977, and no candidate from the party of the president who won the year before New Jersey's off-year elections has won the governorship since 1985.

Third-party candidates are also on the ballot. They are Madelyn Hoffman of the Green Party, Joanne Kuniansky of the Socialist Workers Party, and Gregg Mele of the Libertarian Party.

LEGISLATURE

All 120 seats in New Jersey's Legislature are on the ballot, and with them Democratic control of the Assembly and Senate.

Democrats control the Assembly with 52 seats to Republicans' 28. In the Senate, Democrats have 25 seats to the Republicans' 15. Republicans haven't controlled the Legislature in two decades.

Among the most closely watched races this year are the 2nd District, which includes Atlantic County, and the 8th District, which covers parts of Atlantic, Burlington and Camden counties.

In the 2nd District, Republican Vince Polistina is up against Democratic Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo. Polistina is a former Assembly member, serving from 2008 to 2012. Mazzeo has served in the Assembly, representing the 2nd District, since 2014.

In the 8th District, Democrat Dawn Addiego is seeking reelection, running against Republican Assembly member Jean Stanfield. Addiego left the Republican Party in 2019 to join the Democrats.

New Jersey's Legislature consists of 40 districts, which each send one senator and two Assembly members to Trenton. Assembly members serve two-year terms, while senators serve four-year terms except for the first election after the census, which comes this year, when they serve two-year terms.

BALLOT QUESTIONS

Voters are being asked two questions this year. One asks whether to allow betting on New Jersey college teams or teams from other states whose games are played in New Jersey.

A separate question asks whether organizations that are permitted to hold raffles should be able to keep the money to support themselves.

Currently, only veterans and senior citizen groups may use the net proceeds from those games to support their groups. Other groups that are permitted to conduct raffles may use the proceeds from those games only for certain purposes.

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