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Norcross Bill To Move Presidential Primary To June Clears Senate Budget Committee

Measure Would Save Millions In State and Local Elections Costs

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Donald Norcross (D-Camden/Gloucester) to return the date of the February presidential primary election to June, saving millions of dollars in elections-related costs, was approved today by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.

The bill (S-2883/A-3777) would eliminate the separate presidential primary election held in February and require, instead, that it be held during the regular June primary election, as it was prior to 2005. The move would save approximately $11 million in FY 2012, according to the Office of Legislative Services.

“Moving the presidential primary to February did not give New Jersey the Election Day advantage that was expected. When two dozen other states also decided to hold early primaries, we once again found ourselves in the middle of the pack. In the end, we paid millions of dollars for a move that would ultimately be rendered moot,” said Senator Norcross. ”By returning our presidential primary to the traditional June date, we will save an estimated $12 million in taxpayer funding and likely wield the same influence as we did in the last presidential race.”

In 2005, state law was changed to establish a separate presidential primary election in February, so that New Jersey could play a larger role in determining the outcome of the nomination process. Despite the move, New Jersey was ultimately among 25 states that held their primaries in February during the 2008 presidential election. The cost of the separate election was $11.8 million.

If passed, the bill would result in elections-related cost savings in primarily two areas: the expenses of the counties and municipalities which administer the election and the salaries of poll workers conducting the election. Specifically, reductions would be realized in the costs for ballot printing and postage, processing, legal advertising, polling place rental and voting machine delivery. The cost of poll workers’ salaries – which are divided between the counties and the state, with the counties paying $75 of each poll worker’s salary and the state paying $125 of each worker’s salary – would also be eliminated.

“In this economy, we need to look for spending cuts wherever possible,” said Senator Norcross. “Holding our presidential primary on the same day as state primaries is a sensible move that will save millions of dollars in elections-related costs, and create much-needed savings for our taxpayers. From an economic perspective, this just makes sense.”

The Assembly approved the bill by a vote of 76-0 in May. The measure now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

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