The full New Jersey Assembly passed a bipartisan package of election security bills, including one put forward by Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-19), that would strengthen real-time vote count reporting in Garden State elections.
“At a critical and harshly partisan time in our country, as others have moved to make it harder not easier to vote and the federal government has often been unable to act decisively, I think we can be exceptionally proud to boast that New Jersey is bucking the trend,” said Coughlin.
The bill (A-3822) had bipartisan support, with Assembly Minority Leader John DiMaio (R-23) along with Assembly members Aura Dunn (R-25), Sterley Stanley (D-18), and Joe Danielsen (D-17) all serving as co-sponsors of the bill. It awaits introduction and action in the Senate.
Election Night Certainty
Under the bill, county Board of Elections websites would be required to uniformly report unofficial results on election nights, giving voters the ability to see the number of votes cast, counted, and remaining to be counted.
Voting data would be presented to show whether the vote was cast by machine during early voting or on Election Day, but mail, or provisionally.
Additionally, the bill would allow for mail-in ballots to be processed, but not counted, beginning five days ahead of an election. This would give county Board of Elections the necessary data to provide unofficial results of both in-person and mail-in votes.
Processing ballots would involve verifying voter signatures and the physical opening of ballots in preparation of counting for tabulation.
“At the heart of our bipartisan bill package, we are working to maintain citizens’ trust and confidence in our election outcomes. My bill specifically looks to do that by catching up the way we process, count, and report ballots, which in turn ensures the public are seeing real-time results reflective of all votes cast whether early, by mail, or at the polls on Election Day,” said Coughlin.
Coughlin’s legislation was part of a bipartisan, seven-bill legislative package designed to address election security in New Jersey.
The package included:
A-3817: Sponsored by Assemblyman Anthony Verrelli (D-15), Assemblyman Christopher DePhillips (R-40), and Assemblyman Dan Benson (D-14), the bill would require ballton privacy sleeves at polling places, make changes to mail-in and voting procedures, and develop an online form to update voter registration data.
A-3818: This legislation would provide specific dates for special fire district elections. It was sponsored by Assemblywoman Shama Haider (D-37) and Assemblyman Kevin Rooney (R-40).
A-3819: Dunn and Stanley co-sponsored this legislation alongside Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-33) which would specify which circumstances would allow a voter to be removed from permanent vote by mail status, and when a ballot would be sent to a primary address. The bill would appropriate $5 million, and would require an education campaign for New Jersey residents.
A-3820: This bill requires unaffiliated voters to request mail-in ballots for primary elections, and to declare political party affiliation. It would also require election officials to notify unaffiliated voters of unaffiliated status, and would prohibit mail-in ballots from containing visible political affiliation or designations. It was sponsored by Assemblyman Rob. Karabinchak (D-18) and Assemblywoman Sadaf Jaffer (D-16).
A-3821 – Sponsored by Assemblywoman Shanique Speight (D-29), the bill would specify placement of early voting locations and ballot drop offs.
A-3823: Sponsored by Benson, alongside Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter (D-35) and Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson (D-15), the bill would provide additional processes to maintain voter rolls. It would permit remote training for election workers; removes salaries of boards of elections from two percent cap on expenditure increase; exempts election worker compensation from taxation.