TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senators Nicholas Sacco and John Adler that would allow New Jersey residents living overseas, including those in the military, to vote by absentee ballot in all State and local elections was approved by the Senate State Government Committee today.
“New Jersey’s overseas absentee ballot program is outdated and disenfranchises far too many New Jersey voters, especially our servicemen and women,” said Senator Sacco, D-Hudson. “Current technology can make it very easy to get ballots into the hands of voters, so it’s up to us to make sure that they get every opportunity to have a say in what’s going on at home while they are away.”
The Senators’ bill, S1460, would permit an overseas voter to vote by absentee ballot in any election held in this State, including State and local elections. Under current law, an overseas voter, including anyone in the military, can only vote by absentee ballot in federal elections.
“We need to make it as easy as possible for our fighting men and women overseas to vote in every election here at home,” explained Senator Adler, D-Cherry Hill. “While we should never jeopardize the integrity of our elections, it only makes sense to explore all electronic means of getting absentee ballots to those living abroad.”
“We should make it as easy as possible for members of the armed services to take part in democracy,” added Senator Adler.
The bill would also expand the methods of transmitting ballots used by overseas voters who wish to vote. The bill would remove 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 and any other form of electronic transmission including, but not exclusively, electronic mail.
Under the bill, an overseas voter could request and receive information about voting in any election by electronic mail and also complete and return an electronic ballot that has been received by electronic mail. Pursuant to current law, for such a vote to be considered valid, the voter would still be required to complete a paper copy of the ballot that would be sent to the appropriate county board of elections after the electronic transmittal of the voted ballot.
The bill passed the Committee by a vote of 4-0 and now goes to the full Senate for consideration.