TRENTON – Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill that would have expanded New Jersey’s early voting procedures today, earning the ire of one of the legislation’s sponsors.
The bill would have allowed New Jersey voters to cast their ballots at a designated polling place during the two weeks prior to an election.
“In vetoing early voting for New Jersey citizens, Gov. Christie has turned his back on one of the lessons of Hurricane Sandy and the difficulties faced by hard-working people trying to balance work and family life with the responsibilities of citizenship,” said Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex County), one of the lead sponsors of the proposed legislation.
“Thirty two states and the District of Columbia have taken this simple and responsible step to encourage voter participation,” Wisniewski added. “There is no legitimate reason why New Jersey could not have done the same.”
Opponents of the bill argued that New Jersey residents are already able to vote by mail or in person at their county clerk’s office up to 45 days before an election. The Office of Legislative Services estimated that it would cost $21 million for electronic poll books and voting machines to facilitate the new early voting, plus an additional $2 million per year in administrative costs.
Election officials could save some money this year by keeping track of early voting with paper records, but that would introduce a measure of complexity to their existing workload and increase long-term costs of the program.
Joanne Nyikita, executive vice president of the New Jersey Association of Election Officials and superintendent of elections in Burlington County, said that that type of manual record keeping just could not be done every day for the two week period prior to an election.
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