In an effort to maintain a fair election process in New Jersey, legislation promoting voting transparency sponsored by Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker and Assemblyman Roy Freiman was signed into law by the Governor on Tuesday.
The “Voting Precinct Transparency Act,” (A-4564) – now law – requires the filing of election district, county district and municipal ward boundary data with the Secretary of State for posting and downloading online.
It further requires the Secretary to post a table or database containing the election results per election district in a format that matches the election districts boundary data.
“Some states do a great job of providing precinct-level election results, others do a great job of providing precinct geographies,” said Assembly Andrew Zwicker (D-Somerset, Mercer, Middlesex, Hunterdon). “However, most states don’t compile either, and the few that do, don’t do so in a way that is standardized. Currently, New Jersey is one of the states that doesn’t compile and release them all. This new law would change that and indeed, would make New Jersey a leader in transparency about election data.”
Currently, all municipalities in New Jersey are divided into election districts for the purposes of election administration and voting. Essex, Atlantic and Hudson counties are divided into county districts from which voters elect some or all of the members of the county governing body. Sixty-four municipalities in New Jersey have established municipal wards from which voters elect some or all of the members of their respective municipal governing bodies.
“Election data should be accessible to all in a format that is clear and understandable,” said Assemblyman Roy Freiman (D-Somerset, Mercer, Middlesex, Hunterdon). “Our goal has always been to protect the rights of voters and ensure that all elections are fair and in compliance with federal mandates. This law is an added layer of security in order to do just that.”
Under the law, the Secretary of State must make this data available on the official website of the Division of Elections for the public to download free of charge.
It is important to have high-quality data indicating the boundaries of precincts. According to the sponsors, other benefits would include:
• establishing a precedent of releasing high quality, usable data for use by all New Jerseyans;
• possibly making election administration and ballot assignment easier; and
• making it easier for municipalities and counties to comply with federal mandates such as the Voting Rights Act.
The act goes into effect immediately.