TRENTON – In an effort to stop Republican Gov. Chris Christie from spending $12 million on what they believe is an unnecessary extra election in October to fill the remainder of the late U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s term, Assembly Democrats introduced a bill that would move the general election from Nov. 5 to Oct. 16 to coincide with it.
The bill (A-4237) is sponsored by Democrats Reed Gusciora and Linda Stender. Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald sponsored a separate bill (A-4249) – the Elections Integrity Act – that would allow a registered voter who is eligible to vote at a designated polling place on the day of the special election scheduled for Oct. 16 to be offered the opportunity to vote early, at the same polling place, for the November general election.
Both bills were released by the Assembly Budget Committee on Monday.
“Gov. Christie can no longer claim with a straight face to be fiscally responsible or a defender of the rights of New Jersey voters,” said Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington). “Two elections occurring in such close proximity to one another threaten to confuse voters and decrease voter participation. Permitting voters to vote in either the October or November elections will both reduce the costs of the election and maximize voter turnout.”
The Gusciora-Stender bill would direct the Secretary of State to make such adjustments to the statutory law governing the administration of the general election as may be necessary to effectuate the purposes of the bill, and provide appropriate notice to state, county and local officials and to the general public as to the change of the date of the general election in 2013 required by the bill.
The Greenwald bill would essentially combine the October special election ballot and the November general election ballot.
The same number of poll workers and voting machines normally allocated to each polling place to conduct an election shall be designated to conduct the October election. The votes cast early for the special election and the general election would be counted on general election day.
The bill would require the Secretary of State to issue uniform guidelines to be followed at each polling place for the purpose of implementing the provisions of the bill, and to inform state, county, and local government officials and the general public as to the availability of early voting required by the bill.
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