TRENTON – A package of bills sponsored by Senator Wayne R. Bryant designed to reform elections in the State was unanimously approved today by the Senate State Government Committee.
“It’s time we reformed the way officials are elected in New Jersey,” said Senator Bryant, D-Camden and Gloucester. “In the past, many voters have been either confused or just plain uninformed about basic voting information like voter registration, poll locations and absentee ballots. These measures would help educate voters so that they are better able to vote for the candidates they want to represent them.”
Senator Bryant’s bill package includes a measure, S-2402, that would help give New Jersey a stronger voice in presidential elections by changing the State’s primary date from June to February. Another measure, S-2394, would allow voters to declare party affiliation on their registration forms.
Also included are a number of measures designed to protect voters’ rights, and help ensure that all eligible voters are included in the election process. The Senator’s bill, S-2387, would amend current law to allow voters to register to vote up to 21 days prior to an election. Currently, voters must register 29 days before an election. Also included in the package is S-2401, which would standardize the recount filing deadline for elections. Currently the deadline is on or before the second Saturday following an election. This measure would make the deadline an even 15 days following the election.
“We must make sure that people get to the polls and are able to vote when they get there,” said Senator Bryant, whose bill, S-2396 would require the Attorney General and county boards of election to produce and display election training materials and other pertinent election information to voters. Another measure, S-2395, would require county boards of election to prepare reports concerning the use of emergency, provisional and advance ballots. A measure sponsored by Senators Bryant and Nia H. Gill, D-Essex and Passaic, S-30, would require the posting of the “Voter’s Bill of Rights” at each polling location. Included in the “Voter’s Bill of Rights,” would be instructions for first time voters and information on federal and state laws that prohibit voting fraud, and the penalties for these acts. County boards of elections would be required to post the notice in polling places before they open on election days.
Also included in the election reform package is a measure to allow elections in municipalities with fewer than 500 residents to be conducted by mail (S-2389).
Senator Bryant also sponsored a measure, S-2393, that would increase criminal voting penalties like registering more than once, or tampering with a ballot box.