TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senators Nicholas Sacco and John Adler that will allow New Jersey residents living overseas, including those in the military, to vote by absentee ballot in all State and local elections was signed into law today by the Governor.
“For too long, New Jersey’s election laws have lagged far behind the state of current technology,” said Senator Sacco, D-Hudson and Bergen. “With the prevalence of e-mail and other forms of electronic transmission, State election regulators can easily and cheaply communicate with potential voters, wherever they are in the world. Thanks to this new law, we can increase participation in the democratic process in New Jersey, particularly for those in our military serving overseas.”
“We must give our brave men and women from New Jersey that are serving in the Armed Forces overseas every opportunity to have a voice in their government,” said Senator Adler, D-Cherry Hill. “By making it easier for State residents overseas to vote electronically, we can guarantee that our soldiers who have sacrificed so much for their country aren’t forced to sacrifice their right to vote.”
The Senators’ bill, S-1460, permits overseas voters to vote by absentee ballot in any election held in this State, including State and local elections. Under the previous law, overseas voters, including anyone in the military, could only vote by absentee ballot in federal elections.
The new law also expands the acceptable methods of transmitting ballots used by overseas voters who wish to vote. It removes the term “fax” in those sections of law pertaining to this type of voting and replaces it with the term “electronic means,” a term defined to encompass fax machines as well as any other form of electronic transmission including e-mail.
Under the new law, an overseas voter will be able to request and receive information about voting in any election by e-mail and also complete and return an electronic ballot that has been received by e-mail. Pursuant to the previous statutes, for such a vote to be considered valid, the voter will still be required to complete a paper copy of the ballot to send to the appropriate county board of elections after the electronic ballot has been received.
The bill received final legislative approval in June.