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Norcross Bill To Move Presidential Primary To June Clears Senate State Government 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 State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation 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.

“Everyone thought a February presidential primary would mean that New Jersey would have more influence in the selection process of presidential candidates. But when nearly half of the states in the nation moved their primary as well, it made our change moot. Ultimately, all we were left with was a $12 million bill,” said Senator Norcross. “By moving the primary back to the traditional date for primary elections, we will save millions of dollars in taxpayer money. From an economic standpoint, this is a no-brainer.”

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.

“Holding a separate primary during presidential election years simply inflates election costs, and it does so unnecessarily,” said Senator Norcross. “By consolidating primary elections for state and presidential races, we will eliminate the added cost of printing and mailing ballots, conducting the election and processing the results. From a fiscal perspective, this just makes sense.”

The Assembly approved the bill by a vote of 76-0 in May. The measure now heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, before heading to the full Senate for consideration.

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