SENATE, No. 3391

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

219th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED FEBRUARY 4, 2021

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  STEVEN V. OROHO

District 24 (Morris, Sussex and Warren)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Senators Pennacchio, A.M.Bucco, Brown, Corrado, Thompson, Singer, Testa and Cardinale

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Requires voter who wishes to vote by mail to complete application for mail-in ballot each calendar year; repeals automatic vote-by-mail designation.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning applications to vote by mail and amending P.L.1974, c.30 and P.L.2009, c.79 and repealing section 14 of P.L.2018, c.72.

 

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

 

     1.    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:

     [ ]    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) [] I wish to receive a Mail-in Ballot for all [future] elections [, until] in which I am eligible to vote this calendar year, unless I request otherwise in writing.

     (14) 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 serving a sentence of incarceration 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

     (15) 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 additional information concerning voting by mail; 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 the vote by mail option specified on the form, 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 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. Each such form, and any registration form received otherwise by a commissioner of registration, shall be forwarded to the county clerk if the vote by mail option is selected on a form.

     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.2019, c.270, s.3)

 

     2.    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 by completing a mail-in ballot application each calendar year, indicating the voter’s desire to vote:

     (1)   in all [future] elections, including general elections, held in this State in the calendar year, in which the voter is eligible to vote; or

     (2)   in any single election held in this State in the calendar year, in which the voter is eligible to vote.

     The qualified voter who chooses the option to vote using a mail-in ballot in all [future] elections held in this State in the calendar year shall be furnished with such a ballot by the county clerk without further request on the part of the voter [and until] for that calendar year, unless the voter requests in writing that the voter no longer be sent a mail-in ballot.

     The mail-in ballot application form prepared by the Secretary of State shall present the two options in the order provided above. The mail-in ballot application shall also provide spaces for the voter's telephone number and email address, including language informing the voter that this contact information will be used to contact the voter concerning the acceptance or rejection of the ballot, and how the voter may cure a defect. A voter's telephone number and email address shall not be subject to public disclosure and shall not be considered a government record.

     The additional direct expenditures required for the implementation of the provisions of this subsection as amended by section 1 of P.L.2018, c.72 shall be offset pursuant to section 1 of P.L.2019, c.459 (C.19:63-29).

     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.     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.

     f.     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 notifies the clerk in writing that the person no longer wishes to receive such a ballot for any election; or is no longer eligible to vote and whose registration file has been transferred to the deleted file pursuant to R.S.19:31-19.

     g.    Any mail-in ballot that is sent to a qualified voter and that is returned to the county clerk for any reason shall be forwarded to the commissioner of registration, who shall so note the return in the voter record of that voter.

(cf:  P.L.2020, c.70, s.8)

 

     3.    Section 5 of P.L.2009, c.79 (C.19:63-5) is amended to read as follows:

     5.    In the case of any election, the application for a mail-in ballot shall be made to the county clerk. The county clerk shall stamp thereon the date on which the application was received in the clerk's office.

     In the case of applications for overseas federal election voter ballots, as provided for in P.L.1976, c.23 (C.19:59-1 et seq.), no application shall be refused on the grounds that it was submitted too early.

     In the case of voter registration forms that include a selected vote by mail option, a copy of each such form shall be transmitted to and received by the appropriate county clerk, who shall be responsible for providing mail-in ballots to each qualified voter requesting such ballots for [future] all elections [, until] held in that calendar year, unless the voter requests otherwise in writing.

(cf: P.L.2018, c.72, s.5)

 

     4.    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), the following applies:

     You must complete the application form below and send it to the county clerk where you reside or write or apply in person to the county clerk where you reside to request a mail-in ballot.

     The name, address, and signature of any person who has assisted you to complete the mail-in ballot application must be provided on the application, and you must sign and date the application.

     No person may serve as an authorized messenger or bearer for more than three qualified voters in an election, but a person may serve as such for up to five qualified voters in an election if those voters are immediate family members residing in the same household as the messenger or bearer.

     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 serve as an authorized messenger or bearer. 

     A person who applies for a mail-in ballot must submit his or her application at least seven days before the election, but such person may 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 by mail in all [future] elections held in the same calendar year will, after their initial request and without further action on their part in that calendar year, be provided with a mail-in ballot [until] unless the voter requests otherwise in writing.

     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.2020, c.71, s.7)

 

     5.    Within 30 days of the implementation date of this act, the county clerk in each county shall transmit to each voter who is designated in the Statewide Voter Registration System as receiving a mail-in ballot for all future elections, a notice informing the voter that he or she is required to complete an application to vote by mail each calendar year, pursuant to the provisions of this act, P.L.   , c.   (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

 

     6.    Section 14 of P.L.2018, c.72 (C.19:63-3.1) is repealed.

     7.    This act shall take effect immediately, and shall be implemented on the first day following the November general election occurring after that effective date.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill requires a voter who wishes to vote by mail to complete an application for a mail-in ballot each calendar year. The bill also repeals a provision of current law which required each county clerk to designate each voter who voted by mail in 2016, 2017, and 2018 as automatic vote-by-mail voters in all future elections.

     Under current law, a voter may apply to vote by mail in all future elections or in any single election. A voter who indicates a desire to vote by mail in all future elections is not required to reapply for a mail-in ballot each year, but may notify the county clerk that he or she no longer wishes to vote by mail. This bill would require voters who want to vote by mail to complete a mail-in ballot application each calendar year. The application would offer the voter the opportunity to either vote by mail in all elections held in that calendar year, or in any single election held in that calendar year. This bill also repeals a provision of law that made voters who voted by mail in 2016, 2017, and 2018 be designated as automatic vote-by-mail voters in all future elections, unless they opted out at the time of the law’s implementation. 

     The bill requires the county clerk in each county, within 30 days of the implementation date, to transmit to each voter who is designated in the Statewide Voter Registration System as receiving a mail-in ballot for all future elections, a notice informing the voter that he or she is required to complete an application to vote by mail each calendar year. The bill would take effect immediately, but would be implemented on the first day following the November general election occurring after that effective date.