Trenton – In an effort to ensure as many eligible voters as possible are able to participate in elections, the Senate today approved legislation to establish an early voting period and determine locations of ballot drop boxes.
The first bill, S-3203, sponsored by Senators Nia Gill, Linda Greenstein and Shirley Turner, would establish an in-person early voting procedure to allow voters to cast their votes in specially designated polling places, starting on the 10th day before a general election and ending the Sunday before the election. Amendments from the State Assembly have been incorporated in the final version of this legislation.
“Our accountability over government, opportunities to better our lives and the chance to elect our representatives all depend upon our ability to access the ballot,” said Senator Gill (D-Essex/Passaic). “Passing early voting and implementing electronic poll books will ensure our fundamental right to have our voices heard. There are few rights more important than a citizen’s ability to vote. I am grateful to see the full Senate passing this legislation.”
“A resilient and accessible electoral process is a vital national interest. Added protections for early voting are an integral part of this legislation,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “For future elections, we must ensure that we have secure means of voting that work for all New Jerseyans and these bills will provide that.”
“It is our responsibility to do everything we can to combat voter suppression in all of its forms,” said Senator Turner (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “By creating an early voting period we can make sure the ballot box is accessible to all New Jerseyans regardless of their work schedule.”
A voter who participates in early voting would not be permitted to vote by mail-in ballot or in-person on Election Day. Early voting would only be required for a June primary and a November general elections but under the bill, a municipality with elections in May would be able to adopt an early voting period by ordinance.
The second bill, S-3596, sponsored by Senator Beach, would allow county board of elections to determine the location of ballot drop boxes to provide flexibility while maintaining access for voters.
“Ballot boxes must be accessible for all registered voters in their respective counties,” said Senator Beach (D- Burlington/Camden). “We want to make sure that upholding integrity and accessibility for all New Jersey voters is top priority.”
The bills were released from the Senate by votes of 24-12 and 28-8, respectively. With today’s vote, both bills were sent to the Governor for final approval.