Trenton – In an attempt to make voting more accessible and time efficient, the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism, and Historic Preservation Committee approved five bills that would change certain rules surrounding the electoral process.
The first bill, S-856, sponsored by Senator Troy Singleton and Senator James Beach, would allow the County Clerk to begin canvassing early votes and mail-in ballots before Election Day. Under the bill, votes cast during the early voting period may be counted twenty-four hours after the early voting period closes and vote by mail ballots may be counted ten days prior to Election Day.
“Voting is a cornerstone of our democracy. Through our efforts to make voting more accessible via vote by mail and early voting, we have encouraged even more New Jerseyans to participate in the electoral process,” said Senator Singleton (D-Burlington). “However, last year’s election results were significantly delayed due to the counting of these ballots. By allowing county clerks to begin processing early votes and VBMs before Election Day, we hope to restore timeliness and confidence in the process, while maintaining and upholding election integrity”.
The second bill, S-1290, sponsored by Senator James Beach, would raise the pay for election workers in both general and school elections in order to increase the number of poll workers.
The third bill, S-1436, sponsored by Senator Beach, would prohibit electioneering within twenty-five feet of a person waiting in line at a polling place or ballot drop box. The bill would also clarify current law on penalties for electioneering as a third degree crime.
“Our goal is to continue to encourage citizens to take a more active role in the voting process. By providing poll workers with fair compensation, as well as prohibiting electioneering within twenty-five feet of those waiting to vote, our hope is that New Jerseyans will become more politically active,” said Senator Beach (D-Burlington/Camden).
The fourth bill, S-1886, sponsored by Senator Beach, would change certain primary election deadlines. These deadlines include: filing a certificate to fill a vacancy, municipal certification of the names of candidates to the county clerks, the transmittal of the Secretary of State’s certification of federal and State primary election candidates to county clerks, the certification of nominees and the drawing of ballot positions.
The final bill, S-1887, sponsored by Senator Beach, would change the deadline for the filing of acceptance from a successful write-in candidate for a primary election from seven days after the primary election to by the certification of the election results of the primary election.
The bills were released by committee by votes of 4-1, 5-0, 5-0, 5-0 and 5-0, respectively.