Governor Murphy signs group of election bills into law
The bills expand access to the ballot box and provide additional resources to our election officials, while strengthening the security of our elections, Secretary of State Tahesha Way said in a statement. (Edwin J. Torres/NJ Governor’s Office)
Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday signed a package of seven election bills into law the governor said will make democracy in New Jersey stronger, more accessible, and more transparent.
The bills — which do everything from allowing minors to serve as poll workers to permitting the counting of mail-in ballots prior to Election Day — passed the Legislature in June before lawmakers went on their customary summer recess.
“With this bill package, New Jersey continues to expand access to the ballot box and provide additional resources to our election officials, while strengthening the security of our elections,” Secretary of State Tahesha Way said in a statement. “The right to vote is the very foundation of our democracy and we are committed to making voting as safe, simple, and transparent as possible.”
Some of the bills have their detractors. Jesse Burns, executive director of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey, said there are some important and needed provisions in this package, like one allowing voters to apply for mail-in ballots online.
But other provisions are “not helpful to voters and do not expand access,” she said. One bill bars election officials from automatically sending unaffiliated voters mail-in ballots for primary elections.
“These bills don’t fully meet the urgency of the moment and there is more to do,” Burns said.
Notably absent in the package Murphy signed into law, she noted, was a bill to approve same-day voter registration. That measure stalled after facing opposition from Senate President Nicholas Scutari.
The bills signed into law Wednesday would also:
- Make changes to voting procedures, like requiring ballot privacy sleeves at polling places and allowing election officials to begin counting mail-in ballots three days before Election Day.
- Require local health officers to send the names of every adult who dies in their town to their county voter registration office during the two months preceding a primary or general election, in a bid to remove dead voters from the voter rolls.
- Stop automatically sending mail-in ballots to voters if they don’t vote by mail for four consecutive election cycles starting in 2020
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