TRENTON – After some New Jersey schools switched to remote learning Tuesday as a primary day security measure, a pair of lawmakers said they have drafted legislation that would amend current law to allow police in those buildings if they’re used as poll locations.

A state law enacted earlier this year bars police from polling places, to ensure residents – in particular minority ones who might feel more nervous about police interactions – aren’t discouraged from voting.

Assemblyman Gerry Scharfenberger and Assemblywoman Vicky Flynn, both R-Monmouth, said police should be allowed to protect schools used for elections, as part of a focus on the security of schools after the massacre at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

“Having law enforcement at polling stations is simply a common-sense idea that will give voters a level of comfort in uncertain times,” said Scharfenberger. “It becomes even more imperative when we are talking about voting booths located within our schools and to suggest otherwise or to block police from being able to do their jobs is outrageous.”

“There is not a single reason whatsoever why we shouldn’t make the protection of children and our schools the top priority each and every day,” Flynn said. “We have an obligation to do everything within our power to safeguard kids across this state. Their safety is paramount, and this legislation is a step in the right direction to ensuring it is our primary focus.”

RELATED: NJ schools get remote option on election day in response to Texas shooting

In January, the Legislature narrowly passed a bill that Gov. Phil Murphy signed that limits the police presence within 100 feet of polling places unless they’re called there to respond to an incident. The votes were 21-16 in the Senate and 44-29 with one vote to abstain in the Assembly.

Sen. Kristin Corrado, R-Passaic, said the insanity of that law is being demonstrated with today’s switchover to remote learning in some schools serving as polling places.

“It’s beyond ridiculous that schools have to decide whether to stay open with no security presence to comply with Gov. Murphy’s ill-conceived law," Corrado said.

“At a time when kids have already fallen so far behind due to the pandemic, today has basically become a wasted day for education in many districts,” she said. “Our school districts shouldn’t be forced to choose between more learning loss or putting students and teachers at risk, which is exactly what’s happening today. It’s not just dumb, it’s dangerous.”

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The law is intended to avoid voter harassment and intimidation. Back in 1981, the Republican National Committee created a National Ballot Security Task Force in New Jersey in which armed, off-duty police officers patrolled minority neighborhoods and blocked voters in Newark and Trenton.

Democrats sued in 1982, and a consent decree prevented such activity in the future. It expired in 2017.

Michael Symons is the Statehouse bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com

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These are the best hiking spots in New Jersey

A trip to New Jersey doesn't have to be all about the beach. Our state has some incredible trails, waterfalls, and lakes to enjoy.

From the Pine Barrens to the Appalachian Trail to the hidden gems of New Jersey, you have plenty of options for a great hike. Hiking is such a great way to spend time outdoors and enjoy nature, plus it's a great workout.

Before you go out on the trails and explore some of our listeners' suggestions, I have some tips on hiking etiquette from the American Hiking Society.

If you are going downhill and run into an uphill hiker, step to the side and give the uphill hiker space. A hiker going uphill has the right of way unless they stop to catch their breath.

Always stay on the trail, you may see side paths, unless they are marked as an official trail, steer clear of them. By going off-trail you may cause damage to the ecosystems around the trail, the plants, and wildlife that live there.

You also do not want to disturb the wildlife you encounter, just keep your distance from the wildlife and continue hiking.

Bicyclists should yield to hikers and horses. Hikers should also yield to horses, but I’m not sure how many horses you will encounter on the trails in New Jersey.
If you are thinking of bringing your dog on your hike, they should be leashed, and make sure to clean up all pet waste.

Lastly, be mindful of the weather, if the trail is too muddy, it's probably best to save your hike for another day.

I asked our listeners for their suggestions of the best hiking spots in New Jersey, check out their suggestions:

2022 primary for U.S. House elections in New Jersey

The filing deadline for candidates to run in the June 7, 2022 primary was Monday, April 4.

Sixty-three candidates met the filing deadline, including 41 Republicans and 22 Democrats, but some petitions were ultimately disqualified because they didn't have the required 200 signatures from eligible voters in their political party who reside in the district.

In total, there are 56 candidates: 36 Republicans and 20 Democrats. A few have recently suspended their campaigns but will remain on the ballot.