Democrats continued their fight today against the October special election Governor Christie ordered to fill the late Frank Lautenberg’s U.S. Senate seat. One bill that passed a Senate committee and the full Assembly would combine the general and special elections, moving the general from Nov. 5 to Oct. 16. Another, somewhat contradictory bill, would allow New Jerseyans to cast their general election ballot when they vote in the special election. That legislation also passed the full Assembly and the Senate Budget Committee. The two bills passed mostly along party lines, with Democrats in favor and Republican against. Democrats said the legislation would make it easier for voters to participate in both elections, while Republicans argued the proposals were unnecessary.
Christie, a Republican, called a special election for October to fill Lautenberg’s seat after the five-term Democrat died earlier this month. In the interim, Christie appointed Jeffrey Chiesa, who previously served as the state attorney general, to fill the seat.
The special election has drawn the ire of Democrats, who say that holding two elections so close together will decrease voter turnout. They were also hoping that a popular Senate candidate on the top of the Democrats’ ticket on the general election ballot could help them in the gubernatorial and legislative races.
Christie says he is trying to give the voters an elected representative as soon as possible.
The October election will cost $12 million, according to the non-partisan Office of Legislative Services – a price that Democrats have also objected to.
“By combining these two elections, we’ll eliminate the need for duplication of services,” said Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, D-Mercer. “I think we should all join in in saving the estimated $12 million.”