Senate State Gov’t Committee relases early voting bill

TRENTON – The Senate State Government Committee released a bill, on a 3-2 vote, that would enable early voting for certain elections to take place.

The bill, S2364, establishes an early voting procedure to allow resident to vote at specially designated polling places, starting on the 15th day before the primary election and ending on the second day before the election.

A municipality holding municipal elections on the second Tuesday in May, by an ordinance adopted by its governing body, may also conduct early voting for those municipal elections.

Under the bill, early voting will enable a registered voter to vote at a designated polling place before the day of certain elections, for eight hours each day, seven days a week, using the same machines, ballots, and procedures used on the day of any election.

There were some who opposed the bill, largely because of the added costs counties would incur.

New Jersey Association of Counties’ legislative director Alan Weston said he is not opposed to the concept, but wanted to see the fiscal impact such a bill would incur.

He said he didn’t want to be in a situation where every year “we’re going to have a fight in our hands….counties could face substantial costs.

“We like to make sure this is fully covered by the state,” he said.

Burlington County Superintendent of Election Joanne Nyikita opposed the bill for similar reasons, saying the bill would not be compatible for paper ballots. 

“We’re going to have to go to electronic poll books, which would be expensive,” she said.

The other costs associated with the bill could be expensive.

“I’d have to purchase more voting machines,” she said. “Having polling places open for 15 days for seven days a week is going to be costly.”  

The vote was along party lines, with Republicans Sen. Sam Thompson and Sen. Dawn Addiego voting no.

Thompson said the early voting was “not worth the cost.”

Democratic Sens. Jim Whelan, Barbara Buono and Shirley Turner voted yes.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Nia Gill (D-34) of Montclair.

Senate State Gov’t Committee relases early voting bill