Measure Would Bring New Jersey into Compliance with Federal Law
TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Jim Whelan which would provide military and overseas voters more time to vote by mail during a federal election was approved by the Senate today by a vote of 39-0, receiving final legislative approval.
“Democracy depends upon the ability of the electorate to choose the leaders who will help shape the direction of this country moving forward,” said Senator Whelan, D-Atlantic, and chair of the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee. “That right doesn’t stop at that nation’s boundaries, and we need to give ample time to overseas voters to participate – particularly the brave men and women in uniform who are engaged in protecting our freedoms overseas. This bill would require mail-in and overseas ballots to go out five days earlier, in order to ensure that everyone has a chance to have their voices be heard.”
The bill, S-923, would require mail-in and overseas ballots to be sent to voters on or before the 45th day before a federal election, as opposed to the 40th day before. The bill would designate the New Jersey Office of the Secretary of State as the single clearinghouse for all overseas voters who wish to register and participate in vote-by-mail procedures. The bill would bring New Jersey’s election statutes into compliance with the federal requirements under the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act.
The bill would also make technical changes to the candidate filing and ballot positioning timelines in order to accommodate the earlier date for the transmission of mail-in and overseas ballots.
“By giving New Jersey residents serving overseas more time to exercise their right to vote, we’re allowing those people actively engaged in the defense of liberty to take part in their democracy,” said Senator Whelan. “There’s no question that the dangers of serving on the frontline can create uncertainty from one day to the next, and by extending the time period in which New Jerseyans serving in the military can send back their mail-in ballots, we’re accommodating their service to their nation.”
The bill was unanimously approved by the Senate in February, and received Assembly approval earlier in the day. It now heads to the Governor to be signed into law.