Rice Bill Solves Voting Booth Dilemmas

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Ronald L. Rice, which would permit the use of lever voting machines for nonpartisan elections on May 9th without having to implement the federally mandated electronic machines, was approved by the Senate State Government Committee today.

“I want our citizens to feel comfortable when they go to the polls to make their choices,” said Senator Rice, D-Essex. “Allowing the old machines to be used through May will create a smoother election day. My bill will alleviate concerns about having to rush the training of the poll workers and educating the public about using these new machines.”

The bill, S-459, would allow any municipality that holds regular municipal elections, annual school board elections and municipal run-off elections for public office to use voting machines purchased before January 1, 2006.

Senator Rice stated that, “This measure does not affect the federal election rules that mandated electronic voting booths.

“Federal law required municipalities to purchase new voting machines by the end of last year,” said Senator Rice. “Essex County received, in mid-January, 700 touch-screen voting machines to comply with the federal requirements. Because Essex County municipalities are so large, there were concerns that there was not sufficient time to teach both voters and pool workers on the machines.”

The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

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