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Senator James Beach addresses his new colleagues in the Legislature.

Beach-sponsored bill granting voters greater access to information about mail-in ballots also approved by committee

TRENTON — A bill sponsored by Senator James Beach (D-Camden, Burlington) and Senator Donald Norcross (D-Camden, Gloucester) allowing election officials to email sample ballots to registered voters in primary and school board elections was approved unanimously by the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee today.

Under current law, sample ballots must be printed and mailed to each eligible registered voter, creating burdensome costs that can be avoided in today’s modern age. The bill, S-809, would allow the sample ballots to be emailed to registered voters who request them.

“In the age of austere spending, it’s imperative that we find ways to utilize technology to help drive down costs,” said Beach. “This bill will help to do that, while also promoting a consumer-friendly system for voters to access elections information sent right to their inbox.”

The bill would also help make New Jersey a “green” state by cutting down on the use of paper. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, an average American uses the equivalent of a 100-foot tall Douglas Fir tree in paper each year.

“Not only does this make sense for the taxpayer and the voter, it makes sense for the environment,” said Norcross. “We are always trying to find creative ways to streamline processes at the state level. This will allow us to achieve that goal while also being good stewards of our environment.”

The committee also passed a Beach-sponsored bill that requires mail-in ballot applications to be available at polling places on election day, along with requiring poll workers to discuss the application process upon request. Mail-in ballots allows voters the option to cast ballots by mail without providing an explanation.

“We need to do everything we can do to encourage voters to participate in elections, including making them aware that they can vote by mail-in ballot,” Beach said.

The bill passed by a 5-0 committee vote.