Beach, Turner Bill to Restore Vote-by-Mail Reforms Clears Senate

Trenton – Legislation sponsored by Senator James Beach and Senator Shirley Turner, which would restore and reaffirm the 2018 and 2019 vote-by-mail reforms, cleared the Senate today.

“This session we passed meaningful reforms to enhance our state’s vote-by-mail program, including continuing to send mail-in ballots to those who had requested them in the past,” said Senator Beach (D-Burlington/Camden). “I am proud of the work we have done to increase accessibility and improve upon a dated system. This legislation will protect those reforms and ensure they do not place a financial burden on local governments.”

The bill, S-4315, would appropriate an additional $3 million to fund the reforms and require an annual appropriation to fund the program.

“We should be doing all that we can to encourage citizens to exercise their right to vote,” said Senator Turner (D-Hunterdon/Mercer). “This legislation will reinstate the reforms we made to the vote-by-mail system and ensure the progress we made to improve voting accessibility is not lost. By providing funding this will ensure counties do not have to raise property taxes to cover the costs associated with these reforms.”

Following a challenge from The New Jersey Association of Counties, the Council on Local Mandates had deemed the 2018 and 2019 reforms an unfunded mandate.

The 2018 law aimed to increase voter participation by continuing to provide vote-by-mail ballots to any residents who requested them in the 2016 general election. The 2019 law expanded the reforms to include anyone who had requested a mail-in ballot in the 2017 or 2018 elections and appropriated $2 million to cover the cost of the program.

The bill was released from the Senate by a vote of 36-4.