(The Center Square) – New Jersey officials asked a federal judge Friday for more time to respond to a lawsuit filed by President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign seeking to stop an order by Gov. Phil Murphy allowing all voters to cast their ballots by mail.
Murphy and Secretary of State Tahesha Way are supposed to respond to the complaint by Sept. 14. However, in the request submitted by the state’s Attorney General’s office, they noted that they did not receive the lawsuit until Aug. 24, six days after the campaign filed the suit in a New Jersey federal court.
The request asks for a 14-day extension. If approved, that would give Murphy and Way until Sept. 28 to file their response. That’s one week before the deadline for county clerks across the Garden State to mail ballots to all active registered voters.
Earlier Friday, Politico reported that while the Trump campaign filed the lawsuit and asked for a temporary injunction in the initial complaint, it has not followed up with a separate motion seeking such an order.
“That’s how you know this is not a serious lawsuit, because they’re not actually seeking an injunction,” Scott Salmon, the Democratic election lawyer, told the website. “I think they realized right after they filed that they were going to lose, or they realized it before they filed and just did this for show. That’s why it says in their compliant (sic) that they’re going to be seeking a preliminary injunction but then they never actually did.”
Lawyers representing the Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment from The Center Square on Friday afternoon.
Murphy issued his order on Aug. 14, and the campaign responded with the lawsuit four days later. However, the state Legislature voted to approve the vote-by-mail initiative on Aug. 27. To address concerns about potential issues, the law requires county election officials to notify voters within 24 hours if their ballot has been rejected and 48 hours to rectify the issue.
Politico reported the Trump campaign said it welcomed the Legislature’s move but would continue the legal fight, saying the law treats in-person voting as “second class” and may even lead to those ballots not being counted.