SENATE, No. 1682

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

215th LEGISLATURE

INTRODUCED FEBRUARY 21, 2012

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator† JAMES BEACH

District 6 (Burlington and Camden)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

†††† Permits registered voters to receive mail-in ballots automatically for all elections under certain conditions; limits number of sample ballots transmitted to each residence.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

†††† As introduced.

††


An Act concerning mail-in and sample ballots, amending various parts of Title 19 of the Revised Statutes, and supplementing P.L.2009, c.79 (C.19:63-1 et seq.).

 

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

 

†††† 1.††† Section 3 of P.L.2009, c.79 (C.19:63-3) is amended to read as follows:

†††† 3.††† a.† A qualified voter shall be entitled to vote using a mail-in ballot in any election held in this State.

†††† b.††† Not less than seven days before an election in which a voter wants to vote by mail, the voter may apply to the person designated in section 5 of P.L.2009, c.79 (C.19:63-5), for a mail-in ballot.† The application shall be in writing, shall be signed by the applicant and shall state the applicant's place of voting residence and the address to which the ballot shall be sent.† The Secretary of State shall prepare a mail-in application form and shall have the authority to promulgate any rules and regulations the secretary deems necessary to effectuate the purposes of this subsection.

†††† c.†††† Any voter wanting to vote by mail in any election may apply to the person designated in section 5 of P.L.2009, c.79 (C.19:63-5) for a mail-in ballot to be sent to the voter.† A voter who is a member of the armed forces of the United States may use a federal postcard application form to apply for a mail-in ballot.

†††† d.††† Any voter who fails to apply for a mail-in ballot before the seven-day period prescribed in subsection b. of this section may apply in person to the county clerk for a mail-in ballot up to 3 p.m. of the day before the election.

†††† e.†††† (1) A voter who wishes to vote only by mail-in ballot in all future [general] elections, including general elections, in which the voter is eligible to vote, and who states that on an application for a mail-in ballot, shall be furnished such a ballot by the county clerk without further request on the part of the voter and until the voter requests that the voter no longer be sent a mail-in ballot.† A voter shall also have the option to indicate on an application for a mail-in ballot that the voter would like to receive such a ballot for [each election that takes place during the remainder of the calendar year in which the application is completed and submitted] future general elections only.† A voter who exercises this option shall be furnished with a mail-in ballot for each future general election [that takes place during the remainder of the calendar year] without further request by the voter.† A person voting by mail-in ballot who registered by mail after January 1, 2003, who did not provide personal identification information when registering pursuant to section 16 of P.L.1974, c.30 (C.19:31-6.4) and is voting for the first time in his or her current county of residence following registration shall include copies of the required identification information with the mail-in ballot.† Failure to include such information with the mail-in ballot shall result in its rejection.

†††† (2)†† In the event that a voter who has requested a mail-in ballot for all future elections does not complete and return such a ballot for canvassing for two consecutive elections following the election at which the voter last voted, the voter shall be treated as if he or she requested a mail-in ballot for future general elections only and shall continue to be furnished with mail-in ballots for future general elections in accordance with paragraph (3) of this subsection, and the ability of such a voter to receive a mail-in ballot for future elections other than general elections shall be suspended until the voter submits a new application for such a ballot that indicates that the voter wishes to receive a ballot for all future elections.

†††† [(2)] (3)† In the event that a voter who has requested a mail-in ballot for [all] future general elections only does not complete and return such a ballot for canvassing for the fourth general election following the general election at which the voter last voted, the county clerk shall send a notice to that voter to ascertain whether he or she continues to reside at the address from which that voter is registered to vote and continues to be eligible to vote.† If the notice is not completed and returned by the voter to the clerk before the [40th] 45th day prior to the next general election, a mail-in ballot shall not be sent to the voter for that general election.† The ability of such a voter to receive a mail-in ballot for [all] future general elections only shall be suspended until the voter submits a new application for such a ballot that indicates that the voter wishes to receive [the] a ballot for [all] future general elections only or for all future elections.

†††† [(3)] (4)† The county clerk shall not transmit a mail-in ballot for any election to any person who is deemed by a county commissioner of registration to be an inactive voter or whose registration file has been transferred to the deleted file pursuant to R.S.19:31-19.

(cf:† P.L.2009, c.79, s.3)

 

†††† 2.††† Section 6 of P.L.2009, c.79 (C.19:63-6) is amended to read as follows:

†††† 6.††† a. †The county clerk, in the case of any Statewide election, countywide election, or school election in a regional or other school district comprising more than one municipality; the municipal clerk, in the case of any municipal election or school election in a school district comprising a single municipality; and the commissioners or other governing or administrative body of the district, in the case of any election to be held in any fire district or other special district, other than a municipality, created for specified public purposes within one or more municipalities, shall publish the following notice in substantially the following form:

†††† NOTICE TO PERSONS WANTING MAIL-IN BALLOTS

†††† If you are a qualified and registered voter of the State who wants to vote by mail in the......................... (school, municipal, primary, general, or other) election to be held on................. (date of election) complete the application form below and send to the undersigned, or write or apply in person to the undersigned at once requesting that a mail-in ballot be forwarded to you.† The request must state your home address and the address to which the ballot should be sent.† The request must be dated and signed with your signature.

†††† If any person has assisted you to complete the mail-in ballot application, the name, address and signature of the assistor must be provided on the application, and you must sign and date the application for it to be valid and processed.† No person shall serve as an authorized messenger for more than 10 qualified voters in an election.† No person who is a candidate in the election for which the voter requests a mail-in ballot may provide any assistance in the completion of the ballot or may serve as an authorized messenger or bearer.

†††† No mail-in ballot will be provided to any applicant who submits a request therefor by mail unless the request is received at least seven days before the election and contains the requested information.† A voter may, however, request an application in person from the county clerk up to 3 p.m. of the day before the election.† Voters who want to vote only by mail in all future elections in which they are eligible to vote and who state that on their application shall, after their initial request and without further action on their part, be provided a mail-in ballot by the county clerk until the voter requests that the voter no longer be sent such a ballot.† A voterís failure to vote in two consecutive elections following the election at which the voter last voted will result in the suspension of that voterís ability to receive a mail-in ballot for all future elections other than the general election, unless a new application is completed and filed with the county clerk.

†††† Voters who want to vote only by mail in [all] future general elections only in which they are eligible to vote, and who state that on their application shall, after their initial request and without further action on their part, be provided a mail-in ballot by the county clerk until the voter requests that the voter no longer be sent such a ballot. A voter's failure to vote in the fourth general election following the general election at which the voter last voted may result in the suspension of that voter's ability to receive a mail-in ballot for all future general elections unless a new application is completed and filed with the county clerk.

†††† [Voters also have the option of indicating on their mail-in ballot applications that they would prefer to receive mail-in ballots for each election that takes place during the remainder of this calendar year.† Voters who exercise this option will be furnished with mail-in ballots for each election that takes place during the remainder of this calendar year, without further action on their part.]

†††† Application forms may be obtained by applying to the undersigned either in writing or by telephone, or the application form provided below may be completed and forwarded to the undersigned.

†††† Dated.....................................................

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

†††† †† (signature and title of county clerk)

†††† † ....................................†

†††† ††† (address of county clerk)

†††† † ....................................

†††† ††† (telephone no. of county clerk)

†††† b.††† (1) The Secretary of State shall be responsible for providing all information regarding overseas ballots to each overseas voter eligible for such a ballot pursuant to P.L.1976, c.23 (C.19:59-1 et seq.).† The secretary shall also make available valid overseas voter registration and ballot applications to any voter who is a member of the armed forces of the United States and who is a permanent resident of this State, or who is an overseas voter who wishes to register to vote or to vote in any jurisdiction in this State.† The secretary shall provide such public notice as may be deemed necessary to inform members of the armed forces of the United States and overseas voters how to obtain valid overseas voter registration and ballot applications.

†††† (2)†† The Secretary of State shall undertake a program to inform voters in this State about their eligibility to vote by mail pursuant to this act.† Dissemination of this information shall be included in the standard notices required by this section and other provisions of current law, including but not limited to the notice requirements of R.S.19:12-7, and shall be effectuated by such means as the secretary deems appropriate and to the extent that funds for such dissemination are appropriated including, but not limited to, by means of Statewide or local electronic media, public service announcements broadcast by such media, notices on the Internet site of the Department of State or any other department or agency of the Executive Branch of State government or its political subdivisions deemed appropriate by the secretary, and special mailings or notices in newspapers or other publications circulating in the counties or municipalities of this State.

†††† c.†††† The mail-in ballot materials shall contain a notice that any person voting by mail-in ballot who has registered by mail after January 1, 2003, who did not provide personal identification information when registering and is voting for the first time in his or her current county of residence following registration shall include copies of the required identification information with the mail-in ballot, and that failure to include such information shall result in the rejection of the ballot.

†††† d.††† The notice provided for in subsection a. of this section shall be published before the 55th day immediately preceding the holding of any election.

†††† Notices relating to any Statewide or countywide election shall be published in at least two newspapers published in each county.† All officials charged with the duty of publishing such notices shall publish the same in at least one newspaper published in each municipality or district in which the election is to be held, or if no newspaper is published in the municipality or district, then in a newspaper published in the county and circulating in the municipality or district.† All such notices shall be display advertisements.

(cf:† P.L.2011, c.134, s.50)

 

†††† 3.††† (New section) †a. †Any voter who has opted to receive a mail-in ballot for all future elections, or for future general elections only, pursuant to law, and has not returned a voted ballot to the county board of elections but appears at the polling place to which the voter would be assigned if voting in person on the day of a general election or any other election, shall be permitted to vote in person by provisional ballot pursuant to section 20 of P.L.2009, c. 79 (C.19:63-20).

†††† b.††† Following the election, the voter shall be removed from the list of voters who automatically receive a mail-in ballot for all future elections, or for future general elections only, as the case may be.

†††† c.†††† In order to again receive a mail-in ballot for all future elections, or for future general elections only, the voter shall be required to apply in the manner provided by law to be placed on the list of voters who wish to receive a mail-in ballot for such elections.

 

†††† 4.††† R.S.19:23-30 is amended to read as follows:

†††† 19:23-30. a. In counties not having a superintendent of elections where the county board of elections does not have the equipment or facilities to address and mail sample ballot envelopes, the municipal clerk shall cause to be printed as herewith prescribed a sufficient number of official primary sample ballots of each political party in each election district and shall furnish a sufficient number of stamped envelopes to enable every district board to mail one copy of such ballot of each political party to each voter who is registered, or to each residence address where at least one resident thereof is a registered voter, in the district for the primary election as provided in subsection c. of this section, less the number of voters who have been sent a confirmation notice pursuant to subsection d. of R.S.19:31-15 and have not responded.† The municipal clerk shall deliver to the county clerk in all counties and the county board in counties having a superintendent of elections one official primary sample ballot of each political party for each district in his municipality.† The cost of printing the official primary sample ballots and the stamped envelopes therefor shall be paid by the respective municipalities.

†††† b.††† In counties having a superintendent of elections, and in other counties where the county board of elections may have the equipment or facilities to prepare a properly stamped envelope addressed to each registered voter, or to each residence address where at least one resident thereof is a registered voter, in the county for mailing as provided in subsection c. of this section, the municipal clerk shall cause to be printed as herewith prescribed a sufficient number of official primary sample ballots of each political party for each election district and shall furnish a sufficient number of stamped envelopes to enable the commissioner of registration of the county to mail one copy of such ballot of each political party to each voter who is registered, or to each residence address where at least one resident thereof is a registered voter, in the district for the primary election as provided in subsection c. of this section, less the number of voters who have been sent a confirmation notice pursuant to subsection d. of R.S.19:31-15 and have not responded.† The municipal clerk shall also deliver to the county board ten official primary sample ballots of each political party for each district in his municipality.† The cost of printing of the official primary sample ballots and stamped envelopes therefor shall be paid for by the respective municipalities.† County boards of elections which elect to operate under the provisions of this paragraph shall notify their respective municipal clerks in sufficient time to enable them to make the necessary arrangements the first year.

†††† c.†††† One copy of an official sample primary ballot shall be mailed to each residence address where at least one resident thereof is a registered voter, except that whenever registered voters having different surnames reside at the same residence address, each registered voter at that residence address shall be mailed a separate sample ballot.† Every registered voter whose mailing address is a post office box shall be mailed a separate sample ballot.

(cf:† P.L.2009, c.110, s.2)

 

†††† 5.††† R.S.19:23-33 is amended to read as follows:

†††† 19:23-33. †a. In counties not having a superintendent of elections where the county board of elections does not have the equipment or facilities to address and mail sample ballot envelopes, the municipal clerk in each municipality shall furnish to a member of each district board in his municipality, at his office, or in any other way that he sees fit, on or before Tuesday preceding the primary election in each year, sufficient sample ballots and sufficient stamped envelopes to enable the board to mail sample ballots to the voters, or to residence addresses where at least one resident is a registered voter as [hereinbefore] provided in subsection c. of this section.† Each of the boards shall give the municipal clerk a receipt for such sample ballots and envelopes signed by one of its members.

†††† b.††† In counties having a superintendent of elections, and in other counties where the county board of elections shall elect to operate under the provisions of subsection b. of section 19:23-30 of this Title, the municipal clerk in each municipality shall furnish to the commissioner of registration of his county not later than thirty days preceding the primary election of each year, sufficient stamped envelopes to enable the commissioner of registration to mail sample ballots to each voter who is registered, or to each residence address where at least one resident thereof is a registered voter in the county as provided in subsection c. of this section, less the number of voters who have been sent a confirmation notice pursuant to subsection d. of R.S.19:31-15 and have not responded, and shall, not later than noon of the twelfth day preceding the primary election furnish sufficient sample ballots to the commissioner of registration of his county for that purpose.† The commissioner of registration shall give the municipal clerk a receipt for such sample ballots and envelopes.

†††† c.†††† One copy of an official sample primary ballot shall be mailed to each residence address where at least one resident thereof is a registered voter, except that whenever registered voters having different surnames reside at the same residence address, each registered voter at that residence address shall be mailed a separate sample ballot.† Every registered voter whose mailing address is a post office box shall be mailed a separate sample ballot.

(cf:† P.L.2009, c.110, s.3)

 

†††† 6.††† R.S.19:23-34 is amended to read as follows:

†††† 19:23-34.† Each of such district boards, in counties not having a superintendent of elections where the county board of elections does not have the equipment or facilities to address and mail sample ballot envelopes, and the commissioner of† registration in all other counties, shall prepare and deposit in the post office, on or before twelve o'clock noon on Wednesday preceding the primary day, the stamped envelopes containing a copy of the sample primary ballot of each political party addressed to each voter whose name appears in the primary election registry book or to each residence address where the name of at least one resident thereof is a registered voter.

†††† One copy of an official sample primary ballot shall be mailed to each residence address where at least one resident thereof is a registered voter, except that whenever registered voters having different surnames reside at the same residence address, each registered voter at that residence address shall be mailed a separate sample ballot.† Every registered voter whose mailing address is a
post office box shall be mailed a separate sample ballot.

(cf:† P.L.1947, c.168, s.11)

 

†††† 7.††† (New section) †For any election other than a general or a primary election, one copy of an official sample primary ballot shall be mailed to each residence address where at least one resident thereof is a registered voter, except that whenever registered voters having different surnames reside at the same residence address, each registered voter at that residence address shall be mailed a separate sample ballot.† Every registered voter whose mailing address is a post office box shall be mailed a separate sample ballot.† Election officials shall make such necessary changes to existing procedures or notices as may be necessary to accomplish this requirement, notwithstanding any other provisions of law in Title 19 of the Revised Statutes.

 

†††† 8.††† This act shall take effect on the January 1 next following the day of enactment.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

†††† Under current law, a registered voter can choose to vote by mail-in ballot in all future general elections, until the voter notifies the county clerk that the voter no longer wishes to do so or unless the voter fails to vote in the fourth general election following the general election in which the voter last voted.† Current law also gives the registered voter who applies for a mail-in ballot the option to receive a mail-in ballot for each election occurring in the remainder of that calendar year.

†††† This bill changes current law to provide that a registered voter can choose to vote by mail-in ballot in all future elections, or for future general elections only.† If the voter who has requested a mail-in ballot for all future elections does not vote by such means in two consecutive elections following the election in which the voter last voted, the voter will receive a mail-in ballot for future general elections only and the ability of the voter to receive a mail-in ballot for all other elections would be suspended until the voter submits a new application that the voter wishes to vote in all future elections.

†††† If a voter who has requested a mail-in ballot for future general elections only does not vote in the fourth general election following the general election at which the voter last voted, the county clerk will send a notice to that voter to ascertain whether he or she continues to reside at the address from which that voter is registered to vote.† If the notice is not completed and returned before the 45th day prior to the next general election, a mail-in ballot will not be sent to the voter for that general election.† The ability of such a voter to receive a mail-in ballot for future general elections only would be suspended until the voter submits a new application for such a ballot that indicates that the voter wishes to receive a mail-in ballot for all future elections, or for future general elections only.

†††† If a voter who has requested a mail-in ballot votes in person at a polling place by provisional ballot, the voter would be removed from the list of voters who automatically receive a mail-in ballot for all future elections, or for future general elections only, as may be appropriate.† To again receive a mail-in ballot for such elections, the voter would be required to apply in the manner provided by law to be placed on the list of voters who wish to receive a mail-in ballot for such elections.

†††† The bill also provides that whenever sample ballots are to be mailed prior to elections other than the general election, only one sample ballot would be delivered to each residence address where at least one resident thereof is a registered voter.† This requirement would not apply whenever registered voters having different surnames reside at the same residence address, or in the case of a registered voter whose residence address is a post office box.† Current law provides that for each election, one sample ballot must be delivered to each registered voter, even if several registered voters reside at the same address.