SENATE, No. 672

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

217th LEGISLATURE

 

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2016 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  RONALD L. RICE

District 28 (Essex)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Requires correctional facilities to submit voting rights information packets to inmates.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel.

  


An Act concerning the distribution of voter information to certain inmates and supplementing Title 30 of the Revised Statutes. 

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    (New section)  The Commissioner of Corrections shall develop, as part of the general written information on the inmate’s right to vote issued pursuant to subsection b. of section 2 of P.L.2009, c.329 (C.30:1B-6.2), a voter information packet which shall include:

     a.     voter registration forms and instructions furnished under subsection f. of section 16 of P.L.1974, c.30 (C.19:31-6.4) to be made available to each inmate upon release from incarceration from a correctional facility or from a private facility as defined under section 1 of P.L.1999, c.243 (C.30:4-91.9); and

     b.    a form certifying that the inmate was informed both verbally and in writing of the right to vote under R.S.19:4-1 which shall be signed by both the inmate upon release from incarceration and an official employed by the correctional facility, or employee of the private facility who is required to inform the inmate of the right to vote.  A copy of the form shall be maintained on record by the correctional institution or private facility.  A separate copy of the signed form shall be submitted to the inmate upon release from incarceration. 

 

     2.    (New section) In implementing the provisions of section 1 of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) the Commissioner of Corrections shall:

     a.  Provide for the continuous supply of the voter information packets established under subsection a. of section 1 of P.L.    ,            c.    (C.      ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) to every correctional facility and private facility in this State;

     b.  Provide that the voter information packets established under subsection a. of section 1 of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) be made available in both the English and Spanish languages to facilities which are located in any county in which bilingual sample ballots must be provided pursuant to R.S.19:14-21, R.S.19:49-4, or section 2 of P.L.1965, c.29 (C.19:23-22.4);

     c.     Inform each administrator or superintendent of a correctional facility or the operator of a private facility that they shall not seek to influence an inmate’s political preference or party affiliation or in any way display a political preference or party affiliation; and

     d.    Conduct an annual audit to determine that each correctional facility and private facility is providing voter information packets to each inmate in accordance with section 1 of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

     3.    Section 16 of P.L.1974, c.30 (C.19:31-6.4) is amended to read as follows:

     16.  a.  The Secretary of State shall cause to be prepared and shall provide to each county commissioner of registration forms of size and weight suitable for mailing, which shall require the information required by R.S.19:31-3 in substantially the following form:

VOTER REGISTRATION APPLICATION

     Print clearly in ink. Use ballpoint pen or marker.

     (1)   This form is being used as (check one):

     []New registration

     []Address change

     []Name change

     (2)   Name:.....................................................

                  Last              First                 Middle

     (3)   Are you a citizen of the United States of America?[]Yes[]No

     (4)   Will you be 18 years of age on or before election day?[]Yes[] No

     If you checked 'No' in response to either of these questions, do not        complete this form.

     (5)   Street Address where you live:

.........................................................

     Street Address                   Apt. No.

.........................................................

     (6)   City or Town  County Zip Code

     (7)   Address Where You Receive Your Mail (if different from above):

     ............................................................

     (8)   Date of Birth:

     ......................................................

        Month         Day           Year

     (9)   (a)  Telephone Number (optional)......................

            (b)  E-Mail Address (optional).....................

     (10) Name and address of Your Last Voter Registration

     ............................................................

     ............................................................

     ............................................................

     (11) If you are registering by mail to vote and will be voting for the first time in your current county of residence, please provide one of the following:

     (a)   your New Jersey driver's license number:................................

     (b)   the last four digits of your Social Security Number....................

     OR submit with this form a copy of any one of the following documents: a current and valid photo identification card; a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, pay check or any other government or other identifying document that shows your name and current address.  If you do not provide either your New Jersey driver's license number or the last four digits of your Social Security Number, or enclose a copy of one of the documents listed above, you will be asked for identification when voting for the first time, unless you are exempt from doing so under federal or State law.

     (12) Do you wish to declare a political party affiliation? (Optional):

            [] YES.  Name of Party:

            []  NO.  I do not wish to declare a political party affiliation at this time.

     (13) Declaration - I swear or affirm that:

     I am a U.S. citizen.

     I live at the above address.

     I will be at least 18 years old on or before the day of the next election.

     I am not on parole, probation or serving a sentence due to a conviction for an indictable offense under any federal or State laws.

     I UNDERSTAND THAT ANY FALSE OR FRAUDULENT REGISTRATION MAY SUBJECT ME TO A FINE OF UP TO $15,000, IMPRISONMENT UP TO FIVE YEARS, OR BOTH PURSUANT TO R.S.19:34-1.

     ...........................................................

     Signature or mark of the registrant           Date

     (14) If applicant is unable to complete this form, print the name and address of individual who completed this form.

...................................................

            Name

...................................................

            Address

     In addition, the form may include notice to the applicant of information and options relating to the registration and voting process, including but not limited to notice of qualifications required of a registered voter; notice of the final day by which a person must be registered to be eligible to vote in an election; notice of the effect of a failure to provide required identification information; a place at which the applicant may indicate availability for service as a member of the district board of elections; a place at which the applicant may indicate whether he or she requires a polling place which is accessible to individuals with disabilities and the elderly or whether he or she is legally blind; a place at which the applicant may indicate a desire to receive information concerning absentee voting; and if  the application indicates a political party affiliation, the voter is permitted to vote in the primary election of a political party other than the political party in which the voter was affiliated previously only if the voter registration form with the change of political party affiliation is filed prior to the 50th day next preceding the primary election.  The form may also include a space for the voter registration agency to record whether the applicant registered in person, by mail or by other means.

     b.    The reverse side of the registration form shall bear the address of the Secretary of State or the commissioner of registration to whom such form is supplied, and a United States postal permit the charges upon which shall be paid by the State.

     c.     The Secretary of State shall cause to be prepared registration forms of the size, weight and form described in subsection a. of this section in both the English and Spanish language and shall provide such forms to each commissioner of registration of any county in which there is at least one election district in which bilingual sample ballots must be provided pursuant to R.S.19:14-21, R.S.19:49-4 or section 2 of P.L.1965, c.29 (C.19:23-22.4).

     d.    The commissioner of registration shall furnish such registration forms upon request in person to any person or organization in such reasonable quantities as such person or organization shall request.  The commissioner shall furnish no fewer than two such forms to any person upon request by mail or by telephone.

     e.     Each such registration form shall have annexed thereto instructions specifying the manner and method of registration and stating the qualifications for an eligible voter.

     f.     The Secretary of State shall also furnish such registration forms and such instructions to the Director of the Division of Workers' Compensation, the Director of the Division of Employment Services, and the Director of the Division of Unemployment and Temporary Disability Insurance in the Department of Labor and Workforce Development; to the Director of the Division of Taxation in the Department of the Treasury; to the Executive Director of the New Jersey Transit Corporation; to the Commissioner of Corrections; to the appropriate administrative officer of any other public agency, as defined by subsection a. of section 15 of P.L.1974, c.30 (C.19:31-6.3); to the Adjutant General of the Department of Military and Veterans' Affairs; and to the chief administrative officer of any voter registration agency, as defined in subsection a. of section 26 of P.L.1994, c.182 (C.19:31-6.11).

     g.    All registration forms received by the Secretary of State in the mail or forwarded to the Secretary of State shall be forwarded to the commissioner of registration in the county of the registrant.

     h.    An application to register to vote received from the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission or a voter registration agency, as defined in subsection a. of section 26 of P.L.1994, c.182 (C.19:31-6.11), shall be deemed to have been timely made for the purpose of qualifying an eligible applicant as registered to vote in an election if the date on which the commission or agency shall have received that document in completed form, as indicated in the lower right hand corner of the form, was not later than the 21st day preceding that election.

     i.     Each commissioner of registration shall make note in the permanent registration file of each voter who is required to provide the personal identification information required pursuant to this section, as amended, and R.S.19:15-17, R.S.19:31-5 and Pub.L.107-252 (42 U.S.C.s. 15301 et seq.), to indicate the type of identification provided by the voter and the date on which it is provided.  Prior to the June 2004 primary election, when such a newly registered voter seeks to vote for the first time following his or her registration, the voter will be required to provide such personal identification information.  Beginning with the June 2004 primary election, when such a newly registered voter seeks to vote for the first time following his or her registration, the voter will not be required to provide such information if he or she had previously provided the personal identification information required pursuant to this section.  The required information shall be collected and stored for the time and in the manner required pursuant to regulations promulgated by the Secretary of State.

     j.     The Secretary of State shall amend the voter registration application form if necessary to conform to the requirements of applicable federal or State law.

     k.    In the event that the name of any political party entered on the voter registration form by a voter who wishes to declare a political party affiliation is not legible, the commissioner of registration shall mail the voter a political party declaration form and a letter explaining that the voter's choice was not understood and that the voter should complete and return the declaration form in order to be affiliated with a party.

(cf: P.L.2009, c.287, s.1)

 

     4.    This act shall take effect on the first day of the seventh month following enactment, but the Commissioner of Corrections may take such anticipatory action in advance of that date as may be necessary for the timely implementation of this act.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill requires each correctional facility operating in this State as well as private corrections facilities, often referred to as halfway houses, to provide each inmate with a voter information packet upon the inmate’s release.  The packet is to include voter registration forms and voting instructions.

     The bill also requires that a form certifying that the inmate was informed both verbally and in writing of the right to vote be included in the packet.  Upon an inmate’s release, both an official employed by the correctional facility or an employee of the facility and the inmate are required to sign a copy of the form.  The bill requires each facility to maintain a copy of the form on record.  A separate copy of the signed form is to be submitted to the inmate upon release from incarceration. 

     Currently, an individual who is convicted of a crime of the fourth through first degree is prohibited from voting in any primary, municipal, special or general election while serving a sentence for that crime and while on parole or probation as a result of that conviction.