A pair of bills aimed at altering the special U.S. Senate election were passed in the state Senate Thursday following a spirited debate and with votes split along party lines. The first bill, sponsored by Sen. Shirley Turner, D-Mercer, calls for moving the Nov. 5 general election to the Oct. 16 polling date called by Gov. Chris Christie to elect a U.S. Senator to replace late Sen. Frank Lautenberg. The second bill, sponsored by Sen. Nia H.Gill, D-Bergen, would allow registered voters the opportunity to vote in the Nov. 5 election at the same time and polling place as the Oct. 16 special election. Both bills, which were each passed in the state Assembly on Monday, were passed 22-15. They will now be sent to Christie for his signature.
“What we’re trying to do is give Gov. Christie a choice to make better choices than he has made,’’ Gill said on the Senate floor prior to the votes.
Following the death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg, Christie set a date of Oct. 16, a Wednesday, for polling to elect a new senator to finish out Lautenberg’s term, which is up in 2014.
The decision was derided by Democrats and was challenged in court. Two lower courts said Christie was within his rights to call the special election three weeks before the regularly scheduled election, when Christie will stand for re-election.