Assemblywoman VALERIE VAINIERI HUTTLE
District 37 (Bergen)
Assemblyman DANIEL R. BENSON
District 14 (Mercer and Middlesex)
Assemblywoman BETTYLOU DECROCE
District 26 (Essex, Morris and Passaic)
Assemblywomen Reynolds-Jackson and McKnight
Requires county boards of elections to establish ballot drop boxes at certain long-term care facilities at least 45 days before election.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act requiring county boards of elections to establish ballot drop boxes at certain long-term care facilities and amending P.L.2020, c.72.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. Section 1 of P.L.2020, c.72 (C.19:63-16.1) is amended to read as follows:
1. a. In addition to delivering a voted mail-in ballot by mail or in person as provided under "The Vote By Mail Law," P.L.2009, c.79 (C.19:63-1 et seq.), a mail-in voter shall be entitled to deposit the voter's completed mail-in ballot in a ballot drop box established by the county board of elections as provided under this section. Each mail-in ballot deposited in a ballot drop box by the time designated under current law for the closing of the polls for that election shall be considered valid and shall be canvassed. If, at the closing of the polls, a voter deposits a mail-in ballot at a ballot drop box in a county in which the voter does not reside, the county board of elections, upon discovering that fact, shall notify and timely deliver the ballot to the county board of elections of the county in which the voter resides, who shall accept the ballot for processing. The limitations and prohibitions applicable to mail-in ballot bearers under "The Vote By Mail Law," P.L.2009, c.79 (C.19:63-1 et seq.) shall apply under this section.
b. (1) For any election, the county board of elections in each county shall establish ballot drop boxes where voters may deposit their voted mail-in ballots at least 45 days before the election. The ballot drop boxes shall be located throughout the county in a manner specified under paragraph (2) of this subsection.
(2) (a) A ballot drop box shall mean a secured drop box that is not required to be within view of a live person for monitoring. All ballot drop boxes shall be available for use by a voter 24 hours a day and shall be placed at locations equipped with security cameras that allow for surveillance of the ballot drop box.
(b) At least one ballot drop
box shall be located at each of the following locations: any county government
building in which the main office of the county clerk is located; any municipal
government building in which the main office of the municipal clerk is located
in municipalities with populations larger than 5,000 residents; the main campus
of each county community college; the main campus of each State college or
university; [and] the main
campus of each independent four-year college or university with enrollments
larger than 5,000 students; and each nursing home, assisted living
residence, comprehensive personal care home, residential health care
facility, and dementia care home licensed pursuant to P.L.1971, c.136 (C.26:2H-1 et seq.) with a population of at least 50 residents.
(c) The board of elections of any county that has fewer than 10 ballot drop boxes upon establishing the drop boxes at each location required under subparagraph (b) of this paragraph shall establish additional locations for ballot drop boxes, pursuant to the provisions of subsection c. of this section, so that the county has no fewer than 10 ballot drop boxes. The additional drop boxes shall be placed at county or municipal government buildings. To the best of their ability, the board of elections of every county shall place secure ballot drop boxes based on geographic location and population density to best serve the voters of each county pursuant to the regulations adopted pursuant to subsection c. of this section. The Secretary of State shall establish guidelines for the placement of the ballot drop boxes, the security of the ballot drop boxes, and the schedule for ballot pickup from the ballot boxes.
(d) All ballot drop box locations shall be on sites that meet the accessibility requirements applicable to polling places under R.S.19:8-2 and shall be subject to the same compliance oversight applicable to polling places under section 3 of P.L.1991, c.429 (C.19:8-3.3). A ballot drop box site shall be considered accessible if it is in compliance with the federal "Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990" (42 U.S.C. s. 12101 et seq.).
c. The Secretary of State, in consultation with county boards of elections, shall establish the rules and regulations necessary to ensure the secure and successful implementation of the mail-in ballot drop boxes required by this section. In determining the ballot drop box locations, the secretary and county boards of elections shall consider, at a minimum, concentrations of population, geographic areas, voter convenience, proximity to public transportation, community-based locations, and security. The rules and regulations shall include, but may not be limited to, criteria for each county board of elections to:
(1) determine the number of ballot drop boxes required per voter population, considering both the number of registered voters and the number of registered mail-in voters in each county before each election;
(2) select the geographic location of each ballot drop box, ensuring an equitable distribution of ballot drop boxes across the county to maximize convenience to voters;
(3) ensure the accessibility of ballot drop boxes and drop box locations to persons with disabilities; and
(4) maintain the security of ballot drop boxes and of the ballots deposited therein, including standards and procedures for ballot retrieval by authorized persons only, and for ensuring the proper chain of custody and safe storage of voted mail-in ballots before each election.
(cf: P.L.2020, c.72, s.1)
2. This act shall take effect on July 1, 2021.
This bill would require the county board of elections in each county to establish, in addition to those already required by law, ballot drop boxes at certain long-term care facilities at least 45 days before an election. Under the bill, a ballot drop box would be established at each licensed nursing home, assisted living residence, comprehensive personal care home, residential health care facility, and dementia care home with a population of at least 50 residents. Current law requires that drop boxes be placed at any county government building in which the main office of the county clerk is located; any municipal government building in which the main office of the municipal clerk is located in municipalities with populations larger than 5,000 residents; the main campus of each county community college; the main campus of each State college or university; and the main campus of each independent four-year college or university with enrollments larger than 5,000 students.