A bill sponsored by Senator Jim Whelan which provides military and overseas voters more time to vote by mail during a federal election was signed into law earlier this week by Governor Christie.
“The value of a democracy is measured by the electorate’s ability to choose their own leaders, and through them, the direction for policy moving forward,” said Senator Whelan, D-Atlantic, and chair of the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee. “The right of the people to choose their elected representatives does not stop at the nation’s borders, and we need to give ample time for overseas voters to participate – especially the men and women in uniform who are engaged in protecting our freedoms and interests abroad. This bill makes sure that we send out overseas ballots earlier, to give everyone an opportunity to have their voices be heard.”
The new law, S-923, requires mail-in and overseas ballots to be sent to voters on or before the 45th day before a federal election, as opposed to the 40th day before. The bill designates the New Jersey Office of the Secretary of State as the single clearinghouse for all overseas voters who wish to register and participate in vote-by-mail procedures. The new law brings New Jersey’s election statutes into compliance with the federal requirements under the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act.
The bill also makes technical changes to the candidate filing and ballot positioning timelines in order to accommodate the earlier date for the transmission of mail-in and overseas ballots.
“By sending out overseas ballots earlier, we’re making it easier for the brave New Jerseyans serving their country to participate in elections,” said Senator Whelan. “The dangers of life on the frontlines can create a level of uncertainty from one day to the next, and extending the time period for New Jerseyans serving in the military to send back their mail-in ballots is simply the right thing to do.”
The bill received final legislative approval last month.