Legislation sponsored by Senator Nia H. Gill to improve access to the polls and maximize turnout in the fall elections by giving voters the opportunity to vote early during the Special Election called by Governor Christie, at the same polling place, for the November General Election was advanced today by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. The measure is scheduled to be considered today by the full Assembly. “The governor has created a confusing election schedule for New Jersey voters by calling a Special Election in mid-October, and in the process is wasting $12 million in taxpayer money,” said Senator Gill (D-Essex and Passaic). “His decision will mean two elections will be held just weeks apart, which may lead to decreased voter participation. The least we can do is provide voters the opportunity to cast their ballots for the General Election on the same day, which will ensure a more convenient alternative for voters and improved access to the polls.”
Rather than holding the special election to fill the vacant U.S. Senate seat on the day of the regularly scheduled November General Election, Governor Christie called for a special election to be held on October 16, 2013, which places the primary in August – at a cost of approximately $12 million per election. The governor’s decision results in three elections in four months, threatening to suppress voter turnout in each of the races. The senator’s legislation seeks to reduce the cost of the election and maximize voter turnout.
The bill (S-2882) would combine the October 2013 Special Election ballot and the November 2013 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. All voting on that day would be conducted using paper ballots. The votes cast early for the special election and the general election would be counted on general election day, as is required by current statute and under the bill. The bill would also require the November 2013 general election ballot to include all candidates for the vacancy in the position of United States Senate.