TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senators Bob Smith and Stephen M. Sweeney that would permit any legally registered voter to vote by absentee ballot, under any circumstances was approved today by the Senate State Government Committee.
“We need to give voters every reasonable opportunity to exercise their right to vote, but we also have to be able to protect the integrity of the election process,” said Senator Smith, D-Middlesex and Somerset. “This bill not only expands voters’ ability to take advantage of the absentee ballot option, but also provides protections to ensure that those ballots aren’t tainted through corrupt couriers with hidden partisan agendas. It will encourage people to vote without opening a new door for corrupt politics to exploit the democratic process.”
The Senators’ measure, S-1133, would amend current law to allow any legally registered voter to vote using an absentee ballot without having to provide a reason. The bill would include directions for voters on how to correctly use the absentee ballots. The instructions would also contain detailed instructions for voters to list the name, address and signature of anyone who helped them with their absentee ballot. Election candidates would not be permitted to provide any assistance or deliver absentee ballots on behalf of voters. To ease the voting process for disabled residents, voters who are permanently disabled would only be required to submit their absentee ballot application once, and they would receive an absentee ballot for every election cycle in perpetuity.
Under current law, any voter requesting to use an absentee ballot must include an explanation of why they want to use one. Under this measure, voters requesting absentee ballots would first be required to submit an application to their county or municipal clerk. Once the clerk received the completed application, the signature on the document would be compared with the signature on file in the voter signature registry. The clerk would then compile and update daily a list of voters who received absentee ballots to prevent double voting. Voters receiving absentee ballots would not be permitted to vote at a polling place.
“All eligible New Jersey voters should be able to vote on election day,” said Senator Sweeney, D-Gloucester, Cumberland and Salem. “This measure would allow voters to take advantage of their right to vote, whether they are away on business, out of State in college, or what have you. If they are registered to vote, they will be able to, no questions asked.”
This measure now awaits consideration by the full Senate.