Legislature Approves Bill To Change Election Date

TRENTON — The Legislature gave final approval to a bill that would change the general election date from Nov. 5 to Oct. 16 so it would coincide with the special election date chosen by Republican Gov. Chris Christie to fill the unexpired term of the late U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg.

The bill, which was approved by the Assembly on Monday, passed in the Senate by a 22-15 vote. The measure would allow the state to save approximately $12 million that it will cost to hold the elections on separate dates.

The Senate also passed the Elections Integrity Act, which 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. It was also approved by a 22-15 vote and had passed in the Assembly on Monday.

Rather than holding the special election to fill the vacant U.S. Senate seat on the day of the general election, Christie has decided to spend an addition $12 million on a special U.S. Senate election on Oct. 16. Democrats fear that having two elections within three weeks will also confuse voters and lower turnout.

“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 Assembly Majority Leader Lou 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 bills now go to the governor.

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