TRENTON, N.J. - The window to vote in-person in New Jersey has passed, although most of the state had already turned in a mail-in ballot before Election Day.
In response to growing concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, the state held its first mostly mail-in election this year. More than 3.5 million voters returned their ballots to county officials prior to Election Day, state election authorities have said. That’s 88% of 2016′s turnout.
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New Jersey voters approved legalizing recreational marijuana on Tuesday, and Democrats Joe Biden and Cory Booker won at the top of the ticket.
New Jersey now joins the District of Columbia and a dozen other states legalizing recreational cannabis, with Arizona approving marijuana on Tuesday as well.
Though people could legally buy and use cannabis under the constitutional amendment voters approved by a wide margin, it’s unclear how quickly the new market will be set up.
But the Democrat-led Legislature and Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy supported legalization and are expected to move quickly to pass legislation establishing the marketplace.
The state’s 14 electoral votes will go to Biden, and Booker will head back to Washington for a second full term. Their victories confirm Democrats’ firm control of the state’s presidential electors and the party’s lock on Senate seats.
In the Garden State, Biden defeated Republican President Donald Trump, while Booker won against Rik Mehta, a business executive with a law degree and a doctorate in pharmacy, who staunchly supported the president.
Booker is the former mayor of Newark, the state’s biggest city, and a national political figure who unsuccessfully challenged Biden and other Democrats for the presidential nomination this year.
He spent some of his final days campaigning in other states with close Senate races, just one sign of how optimistic he was about his own race against Mehta.
New Jersey has not elected a Republican to the Senate since Clifford Case in 1972.
Booker won a special election in 2013 after the death of Democrat Frank Lautenberg. He won his first full term in 2014.
The closest races appear to be for House seats. Republican Rep. Jeff Van Drew is trying to win a second term against Democrat Amy Kennedy. Van Drew gained national attention in December when he left the Democratic Party for the GOP because he opposed impeaching Trump. As of Wednesday morning, the race was deemed too close to call.
Most of the state’s Democratic House incumbents won reelection, as did one of just two Republicans, Chris Smith, who won a 21st term.
Democrat Andy Kim won a second term in the Burlington and Ocean counties-based 3rd District against Republican former business executive David Richter.
Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski also won a second term in the 7th District, which has parts of Essex, Hunterdon, Morris, Somerset, Union and Warren counties. He faced GOP state Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr., whose father, Tom Kean Sr., is a two-term former governor.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report