Governor signs voting reform package to strengthen New Jersey elections


Gov. Phil Murphy has signed a series of bills and he has said the new laws will strengthen New Jersey’s elections.

“Across the nation, we continue to see one of our nation’s core principles come under attack as states restrict access to the ballot,” Murphy was quoted as saying in a press release.

“I am proud to sign legislation that will make democracy more accessible, more transparent and stronger in our state. New Jersey will continue to move forward as we ensure that the democratic process is secure and protected,” he said.

“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. “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.”

The Governor signed the following bills into law:

• A-1969/S-138 – Allows minors to serve as election workers between 5:30 a.m. and 9 p.m. on election days;

• A-3817/S-2863 – Requires ballot privacy sleeves at polling place; makes various changes to early and mail-in voting procedures; creates online form to update name and residence on existing voter registration record;

• A-3819/S-2868 – Specifies circumstances when a voter will be removed from permanent vote by mail status and when a ballot will be sent to the primary address; requires educational campaign; makes appropriation of $5 million;

• A-3820/S-2869 – Prohibits unaffiliated mail-in voters from receiving a mail-in ballot for a primary election; requires election officials to provide such voters certain notices; prohibits mail-in ballot envelopes from containing visible political affiliation or designation for certain elections;

• A-3822/S-2865 – Changes certain mail-in ballot deadlines; permits opening and canvassing of mail-in ballots prior to election day; permits pickup schedule for certain mail-in ballots; requires confirmation notice when voter changes party affiliation at the Motor Vehicle Commission;

• A-3823/S-2867 – Requires enhanced review of death records two months prior to election; permits remote training for certain election workers; exempts election worker compensation from taxation and remuneration;

• A-3929/S-2899 – Allows certain voters residing overseas to vote in certain elections in New Jersey depending on overseas residency or intent to return.

“The only way to strengthen our democracy is to make sure we can all participate in it and that the people have trust in the results and the process,” said Assembly Speaker Craig J. Coughlin (D-Middlesex).

“Working together across the aisle, we accomplished just that with these new laws. By updating our voting systems to reflect the kind of world we live in today and ensuring the results reported on election night are easily understood and transparent, we safeguard the health of our democracy,” Coughlin said.

“Reducing the potential for fraud is an absolute necessity to ensure strong, fair elections in New Jersey,” said Assembly members Robert Karabinchak (D-Middlesex), Sadaf Jaffer (D-Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Somerset) and Sterley Stanley (D-Middlesex), sponsors of the bill A-3820. “Requiring voters who are not aligned with a political party to request a mail-in ballot for primaries will further guarantee integrity in our election process.”

“Serving as a poll worker is a unique opportunity for civic engagement for our youth. New Jersey will join many other states in allowing youth to work as poll workers, which can be a great experience for high school students or community youth programs,” said Assembly members Raj Mukherji (D-Hudson), Shavonda Sumter (D-Bergen, Passaic) and Joseph Egan (D-Middlesex, Somerset), sponsors of A-1969.

In a joint statement, Assembly Minority Leader John DiMaio (R-Hunterdon, Somerset, Warren), Assemblywoman Aura Dunn (R-Morris, Somerset) and Assemblyman Kevin J. Rooney (R-Bergen, Essex, Morris, Passaic) said, “Lawmakers understood the democratic process could not stop, even in the midst of a pandemic. Still, there was much confusion going into the 2020 and 2021 elections.

“Both Republicans and Democrats saw the challenges that arose. Senate and Assembly members came together with this bill package to address those problems and strengthen voter confidence and election integrity,” the Republicans said.