Last November’s election in New Jersey was conducted fairly and transparently, but learning lessons following a number of incredibly meaningful election expansions, more is needed to bolster our election infrastructure to further empower voters.
On Thursday, the full Assembly voted and passed bipartisan measures geared toward strengthening our democracy. New Jersey voters must be aware of each step of the election process; legislation would improve voter trust and confidence in who is voting, how they vote, how election officials are counting ballots, and would boost transparency of real-time vote count reporting.
“At a critical and harshly partisan time in our country, as others have moved to make it harder not easier to vote and the federal government has often been unable to act decisively, I think we can be exceptionally proud to boast that New Jersey is bucking the trend,” said Assembly Speaker Craig J. Coughlin (D-Middlesex).
Legislation passed includes:
· A3819 (Mukherji/Dunn/Stanley) Specifies circumstances when voter will be removed from permanent vote by mail status and when ballot will be sent to primary address; requires educational campaign; makes appropriation of $5 million. Passed with a vote of 78-0-2.
· A3820 (Karabinchak/Jaffer) Requires unaffiliated voter to request mail-in ballot for primary election and declare political party affiliation; requires election officials notify unaffiliated voters of unaffiliated status; prohibits mail-in ballot from containing visible political affiliation or designation. Passed with a vote of 75-2-3.
· A3822 (Coughlin/DiMaio/Stanley/Dunn/Danielsen) Changes certain mail-in ballot deadlines; permits opening and canvassing of mail-in ballots prior to election day; permits pickup schedule for certain mail-in ballots; removes ability to change party affiliation at MVC. Passed with a vote of 78-0-2.
· A3823 (Sumter/Benson/Reynolds-Jackson) Provides additional processes to maintain voter rolls; permits remote training for election workers; removes salaries of boards of elections from two percent cap on expenditure increase; exempts election worker compensation from taxation. Passed with a vote of 78-0-2.
This package builds on past voting expansions championed by Assembly Democrats, which have significantly strengthened access to the ballot box through automatic and online voter registration, vote-by-mail and early voting expansions, limits to police presence at polling places and ballot drop boxes, and more.
The bills now await action and consideration in the Senate.