A question asking voters if Sunday shopping should be allowed in Bergen County won’t appear on the November ballot after confusion over how many signatures were needed for the referendum, organizers confirmed.
Modernize Bergen County, a group seeking to abolish the Blue Laws, said their petition for a ballot question came up more than 50,000 signatures short.
“We thought 2,706 was a sufficient amount of signatures to generate a referendum but according to the clerk, we need 54,479,” Modernize Bergen County said in a statement Monday night.
The group said it would continue pushing to lift the Sunday shopping restrictions by asking legislators to change the signature requirements and continuing to collect the amount needed for a countywide ballot question. The group considered seeking ballot initiatives in each town, but that would also require charges to state law.
State law says the ballot question only initially needed 2,500 signatures, but future attempts require at least 10 percent of voters in the county, the group explained. Because the Blue Laws were rewritten in 1999, Modernize Bergen County believed their recent petition would count as a first try.
“Since the law was revised in 1999 we assumed the count would ‘reset’ and our initiative would effectively be the first attempt,” according to the group’s statement.
There were other Blue Laws referendums in 1980 and 1993, making the latest push county as a third try.
Modernize Bergen County has said axing the Blue Laws would boost the county’s economy and create jobs.
Opponents, however, say the Sunday shopping ban offers a much-needed break from mall traffic and is critical for maintaining quality of life in the county.