Current Law Only Allows Vote by Mail-in Ballot for General Elections
(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Patricia Egan Jones, Pamela Lampitt and Adam Taliaferro to allow New Jersey voters to vote by mail in all elections has been signed into law.
The new law changes existing law to enable a qualified voter to vote by mail-in ballot in all future elections. Currently, a voter may only vote by mail-in-ballot in general elections.
“This gives people, especially seniors and those with mobility restrictions, more options to vote, which is a good thing,” said Jones (D-Camden/Gloucester). “We want people to have every possible chance to exercise their right to vote. The more engaged people are the better we will be as a state and country.”
“People are busy. When you’re working a long shift or have to get the kids from one activity to the next, hitting the polls may not be an option,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “This makes voting simpler for people who whether due to work or other obligations may not be able to physically make it to the polls, but want to make their voices heard.”
“We already offer mail-in-ballots for general elections. Expanding it to all elections is a logical next step,” said Taliaferro (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem). “We should be promoting civic engagement. Allowing people to vote via mail for all elections can help boost voter turnout and get more people involved in the electoral process.”
Under the new law (A-1186), a voter who requested a mail-in ballot for all future elections, including general elections, will continue to receive a mail-in ballot until the voter notifies the appropriate county clerk in writing that he or she no longer wishes to receive such a ballot, or is no longer eligible to vote. The law also does the following:
· provides that a sample ballot for an election will not be mailed to any voter who has been sent a mail-in ballot for that election and whose voted ballot has been received by the county board of elections prior to the transmission of sample ballots to voters required by current law;
· permits a county board to send an acknowledgement to a voter when his or her mail-in ballot has been received;
· requires the Secretary of State to update the Statewide Voter Registration System to allow the postal tracking of mail-in ballots using Intelligent Mail barcodes, or a similar successor tracking system, upon the finding by the Secretary of State that such technology is viable;
· reformats the text of the required public notice concerning the use of mail-in ballots that appears in newspapers before an election;
· permits the clerk of each county to use an alternative mail-in ballot certification that permits the voter to certify the correctness of the identifying information contained on the label of the ballot instead of requiring the voter to provide the voter’s name and address on the certification;
· provides that every mail-in ballot that bears a postmark date of the day of an election and that is received within 48 hours after the time of the closing of the polls for that election is to be considered valid and canvassed;
· adds two days to the deadline by which county and State canvassers boards must meet after an election, a recount may be requested, and a petition challenging any nomination or election to elective office may be filed; and
· provides that the clerk of each county must add to the list of registered voters receiving a mail-in ballot for all future elections without further request each voter in the county who requested and received a mail-in ballot for the 2016 general election. Each voter so added would have the option to inform the clerk in writing that the voter does not wish to receive a mail-in ballot automatically for all future elections. The county clerks are to transmit to each such voter a notice that he or she will automatically receive a mail-in ballot for all future elections unless the voter informs the clerk in writing that he or she does not wish to receive such a ballot.
The bill was signed into law by Gov. Murphy on Aug. 10.