Whelan Bill Aimed At Increasing Candidate Participation In School Board Elections Approved By Senate Education Panel

Legislation Would Move School Board Filing Deadline to Last Monday in July

TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senator Jim Whelan that would change the state’s filing deadline for November school board elections in an attempt to increase the number of individuals running to serve on the boards was approved today by the Senate Education Committee.

“Last year we passed commonsense legislation that gave municipalities and school districts the opportunity to move their school board elections from April to November – saving municipalities and the state millions of dollars and increasing voter turnout and participation in elections that greatly affect our children’s education,” said Senator Whelan, D-Atlantic. “An unintended consequence of this legislation, is that the relatively short timeframe from filing deadline to Election Day grew exponentially, and now falls at a time when many families and individuals are busy with graduations, end of school-year activities and summer vacations. Hopefully by moving the date to file for school board closer to the November election, we can encourage more New Jerseyans to participate in the democratic process by running for school boards to serve their communities and better the education for our kids.”

The bill, S-2086, would change the deadline for school board candidates to file petitions to the last Monday in July. Currently, candidates must file by 4 pm on the day of the primary, held in June.

A 2012 law allows for school districts to move their annual elections from the third Tuesday in April to coincide with the general election held in November. Since the law’s adoption, more than 500 school districts have moved their election dates.

The bill, as amended, has the support of the New Jersey School Boards Association and the Constitutional Officers Association of New Jersey.

The bill was approved by the Education Committee with a vote of 5-0. It now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

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