(TRENTON) — Assembly Deputy Speaker John S. Wisniewski (D-Middlesex) issued a multimedia package Tuesday in which he discusses his legislation to bring early voting to New Jersey.
Wisniewski’s legislation (A-3553) would create an early voting process that would allow New Jersey voters to cast their votes at specially designated polling places starting up to five weeks before a primary or general election, and ending on the Sunday before Election Day. Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia currently have an early voting program that allows duly-registered voters to vote in person prior to Election Day.
The multimedia package consists of a video of comments from Wisniewski and audio and a transcript of same.
The audio file is available upon request.
A transcript of Wisniewski’s remarks is appended below:
Assembly Deputy Speaker John S. Wisniewski (D-Middlesex):
“Right now, we have a system in New Jersey where you can vote in one of two ways: you can wait ’till Election Day and between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. you can go to the polls; and we also have a Vote-by-Mail program, used to be called absentee ballots, where you can apply, in writing or in person, for a ballot and you can vote.
“With peoples’ work schedule, a lot of times, folks are either getting up before the polls open or they’re getting home after they close — they just can’t get there. Child care responsibilities, health responsibilities, work responsibilities, you name it, there are lots of reasons why people can’t fit that one day or can’t get the vote-by-mail application done.”
Wisniewski Testimony before Assembly State Government Committee:
“We look at the voter turnout and we’re often disappointed and we see that sometimes we get to 50 percent, sometimes we get to 40 percent. Sometimes, in bad years, we get to 35 percent and we often ask ourselves what can we do to increase turnout.
“I think one of the things is to provide voters with the opportunity to vote early. And having a five week period before Election Day, ending on the Sunday before Election Day, ensures that everybody’s voice can be heard.”
“It’s an obligation that we have as elected officials; it’s an obligation we have as Americans, to make sure that our democracy has as much participation as possible.
“And, 100 years ago, that may have been just going to the polls. That may have meant, 50 years ago, tearing down barriers like poll taxes and poll tests. In the 21st century, that means extending the voting opportunities and maybe in the future it may mean Internet voting.
“We have to modify our voting regimens to meet the times and the demands of our society, but we can’t be pennywise and pound foolish and say that we can’t afford to provide for more participation, because all we’re going to do is make our democracy weaker.”