Legislation that would provide a sweeping overhaul of New Jersey’s outdated voting rights laws was approved by the Senate on Monday. The bill, designated S-50 in honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, includes plans to allow early voting, online and automatic voter registration, increased accessibility and protections, and an end to wasteful special elections. The legislation is sponsored by Senator Nia Gill (D-Essex/Passaic), Senator Ronald Rice (D-Essex), Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester) and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen). Already approved by the Assembly, the measure now goes to the governor following the Senate vote of 24 to 16.
… The bill establishes The Democracy Act to revise various voter registration and voting procedures. Specifically, the bill allows for early voting, online voter registration and allows for the pre-registration of 17-year-olds.
The bill expands various language accessibility provisions by lowering the population threshold that triggers requirements for the publication of election notices and materials in languages other than English.
The bill also makes various changes to current procedures for voting by mail, military and overseas voting under the Overseas Residents Absentee Voting Law, and filling vacancies in the United States Senate and House of Representatives.
Finally, the bill establishes an Office of Accessible Elections in the Division of Elections in the Department of State, codifies a 1982 federal consent decree that prohibits certain actions by persons and political parties concerning elections, lowers the standard for challenging election voter fraud in court and requires the periodic reporting on incidents of voter fraud during the conduct of an election.