TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Barbara Buono which would allow municipalities with nonpartisan forms of government the option to hold their May elections on the same day as the general election in November in order to save tax dollars and increase voter participation was approved by the Assembly today by a vote of 49-25, with 2 abstentions, receiving final legislative approval.
“New Jersey voters are inundated every year with election after election – usually multiple times within a single calendar year – to the point where the average voter cannot focus on the important issues from one campaign to the next,” said Senator Buono, D-Middlesex. “We need to do a better job energizing voters and addressing voter apathy in the Garden State, and we need to give municipalities the option to consolidate election dates and save some much-needed tax dollars. This bill accomplishes both goals, and will result in a more streamlined election process and a more engaged electorate.”
The bill, S-1099, would give municipalities the option of changing the date of their nonpartisan municipal elections – held the second Tuesday in May – to coincide with the general election held in November. Under the bill, municipalities would have to approve a local ordinance in order to consolidate partisan and nonpartisan elections to the November date, and would only be allowed to return to a May election date after ten years under the new system and through additional local ordinance. Under the bill, current office-holders’ terms would be extended to the start of newly elected office-holders in the November election, and the ballot design would be required to draw clear distinctions between the partisan and nonpartisan elections.
Municipalities would also have to designate by ordinance how they would handle a run-off election, if necessary for nonpartisan elected offices on the ballot.
The bill was approved by the Senate by a vote of 38-0 last month, and how heads to the Governor to be signed into law.