On Wednesday, August 28, Gov. Murphy signed into law a bill clarifying a previous piece of legislation that dealt with enrollment in the state’s vote by mail (VBM) program. Primary sponsors of the bill (S4069) include Senate President Steve Sweeney, Assemblywoman Patricia Egan Jones, Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt, Assemblyman Adam Taliaferro, Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker and Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson.
“It is essential that we encourage our residents to vote and that we advocate for all reforms that make it easier for them to do so,” said Charles Wowkanech, President of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO. “The State Fed thanks the sponsors of this important legislation, which will help resolve the confusion around our state’s VBM laws and ensure that thousands of voters automatically receive a ballot in the mail prior to November’s election.”
The original VBM bill, which was signed into law last year, allows people who apply for mail-in ballots to receive them permanently. With that bill, however, came confusion as to how the law should be implemented. Though the bill grandfathered in anyone who voted by mail in the 2016 election, the Division of Elections ruled that the bill did not apply to those who voted in 2017 and 2018. Under the law, those voters would have had to reapply for a mail-in ballot for this year’s election.
This new bill ensures that voters who requested mail-in ballots for any election in 2017 and 2018 will receive a mail-in ballot in all future elections, unless the voter informs his or her county clerk otherwise. The bill also appropriated $2 million to help counties accommodate the increased amount of mail-in ballots.
“Many voters who previously requested mail-in ballots will expect to receive them again in future elections, and I am pleased to sign a bill into law that will accommodate these voters,” Gov. Murphy said in a statement.