Calling the proposal “hasty, counterproductive and less reliable,” Gov. Chris Christie today vetoed a bill that would have let residents vote at their polling place starting 15 days before Election Day. The move was instantly criticized by Democrats who accused the Republican governor of trying to stifle the vote. Under the bill (S2364), voters could have cast ballots in person at their polling places until the Sunday before the primary or general election. Voters can currently cast a “mail-in-ballot” by mailing or hand-delivering a competed ballot to their county clerk starting 45 days before the election, Christie said in his two-page veto message.
Christie said the expanded early voting system envisioned by the Legislature would create a side-by-side voting process and cost the state $23 million in the first year and $2 million in annual administrative costs. He also questioned the safety of transporting paper ballots during the early voting period and the need for a quick set up by July 1.
“I support responsible and cost-efficient election reform that increases voter participation because democracy works best when the most people vote,” Christie said. “But this bill risks the integrity and orderly administration of our elections by introducing a new voting method and process.”
Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex), a primary sponsor of the Assembly version of the bill, said 32 states and Washington already offer some form of in-person early voting and he sees no reason why New Jersey couldn’t have done the same.
“In vetoing early voting for New Jersey citizens,” Wisniewski said in a statement. “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.”