Last Updated: 08/28/2020
TRENTON – Today, Governor Phil Murphy signed a legislative package into law to support this year’s primarily vote-by-mail (VBM) General Election. The series of bills will provide resources and safeguards for New Jersey voters.
“COVID-19 has caused us to reevaluate the way we typically hold our elections,” said Governor Murphy. “Even in the face of a pandemic, we are firmly committed to ensuring a safe and inclusive General Election. Today’s bill signings build on our commitment to ensure that all eligible citizens have the opportunity to safely cast their votes.”
“By enacting this legislation, Governor Murphy and the Legislature have established a plan for the November General Election that protects the right to vote and the health of all New Jersey voters,” said Secretary of State Tahesha Way.
The following bills were signed into law:
A4475/S2580 (Reynolds-Jackson, Benson, Caputo/Singleton, Sarlo, Beach) – Requires county boards of election to establish ballot drop boxes in each county at least 45 days before election; revises procedures concerning mail-in ballots for 2020 general election.
A prior version of this bill was sent to Governor Murphy’s desk yesterday, and the Governor issued a conditional veto to correct an error in the effective date after receiving the bill. Upon receiving the conditional veto yesterday, the Legislature concurred with the Governor’s recommendations and the Governor signed the final version into law today.
A4276/S2598 (Zwicker, Benson, Conaway/Gopal, Sarlo, Gill) – Establishes “The Ballot Cure Act” to modify and establish various voting procedures.
A4320/S2633 (Zwicker, Benson, Freiman/Gopal, Sarlo) – Extends ballot receipt and election certification deadlines; increases certain messenger and bearer ballot limits; requires certain information to increase public awareness and use of voting by mail.
Statements regarding A4475:
“The sanctity of our elections is paramount to the continuation of our democracy. With the pandemic continuing to spread across the country, we are once again voting by mail for the upcoming elections,” said Senator Troy Singleton. “However, it is becoming clearer by the day that voters need alternative ways to deliver their ballots. This is why every county should have drop boxes where people can directly submit their ballots. This increased accessibility will encourage voters to partake in this civic duty.”
“Voting is the most fundamental right in our democracy. As elected officials we must advance the expansion of greater voter access,” said Senator Nia Gill. “The problems in May and June highlighted the vulnerabilities within our voting system and underscored the need to improve the process.”
“We cannot allow the pandemic to determine this election,” said Senator Vin Gopal. “It’s our job as elected officials to make sure every New Jerseyan eligible to vote can do so easily, confidently and safely. This is the most important election of my lifetime and I am glad the Senate, with this legislation, is addressing the many challenges our current public health crisis presents and ensuring it does not hinder our ability to hold a fair election.”
“With the Governor’s announcement to send every voter a mail-in ballot this November, it is critical we provide expansive access to drop boxes throughout the state, inclining greater voter participation during the upcoming election,” said Senator James Beach.
“As we approach one of the most important elections in our lifetime it is crucial that we do what we can to make the voting process operate effectively and safely. We want voters to know they should not be deterred from participating in the election process because of the pandemic. Voting by mail has shown itself to be an important tool, because It provides for increased turnout, reduced cost, and even increased safety, particularly as the need to limit social interaction. These bills will help serve that goal,” said Senator Paul Sarlo.
“For a variety of reasons, some voters may feel uncomfortable standing in line at the polls during COVID-19. At the same time, some may not want to put their ballot in the mail and risk delivery delays,” said Assemblymembers Verlina Reynolds-Jackson, Daniel Benson, and Ralph Caputo. “Drop boxes are a convenient option for voters to easily and securely cast their ballot. By expanding the number of drop boxes available to voters, we are giving them another option to safely make their voice heard.”
Statements regarding A-4276:
“One of the foundations of our democracy is the right to vote,” said Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker. “This year, most of us will choose to vote-by-mail because of safety concerns due to COVID-19. It is critical that each person knows that when their ballot is cast their vote is recorded. The purpose of this bill is to make voting more accessible and minimize the likelihood of disenfranchisement. We must make sure that every vote counts.”
“Every eligible voter has the right to participate in our electoral process,” said Assemblyman Daniel Benson. “Doing our due diligence, as this bill does, to ensure voters mailing their ballot can track their vote and can rectify an issue that would invalidate their ballot is absolutely necessary for fair representation.”
“In New Jersey we need to establish a modern voting system for the upcoming November election, and beyond, that will largely utilize vote-by-mail,” said Assemblyman Herb Conaway. “This starts with better support and procedures for vote-by-mail, so that all voters and particularly the disabled, elderly and language-minority voters are able to safely and confidently vote from home.”
Statements regarding A-4320:
“Safe and fair voting is a pillar of our democracy,” said Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker. “Doing everything to ensure voters are fully prepared with the know-how to vote by mail and to ensure this method of voting is fair and transparent is critical to prevent voter suppression and protect the vote.”
“Recent months have revealed concerning flaws in our vote-by-mail system, many the result of simple, avoidable error,” said Assemblyman Daniel Benson. “As we look to the general election in November, this legislation ensures voters are not only armed with the information to vote-by-mail, but also that mail-in ballots aren’t unduly being rejected and left uncounted.”
“With more than six million registered voters in New Jersey and a lot at stake in the upcoming general election, it’s imperative to continually improve the VBM process,” said Assemblyman Roy Freiman. “Helping to educate people as well as the county election staff counting mail-in ballots would build more trust and confidence among voters, and combat misinformation to safeguard people’s right to vote.”