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Governor Signs Legislation Establishing In-Person Early Voting in NJ

Gov. Phil Murphy, joined by legislators and advocates including national voting rights leader Stacey Abrams, yesterday signed legislation (S3203), which establishes in-person early voting in New Jersey.

“While other states are looking to find ways to keep their citizens from voting, we have consistently worked to ensure that the voices of the people are heard,” Murphy said. “I am immensely proud to sign this legislation and to remind the nation that our democracy wins when we open the doors of our polling places wide instead of slamming them shut.”

S-3203 allows registered voters to vote using machines at polling places before the day of certain primary and general elections in New Jersey. In-person early voting will enable a registered voter to vote at a designated polling place before the day of an election using optical-scan voting machines that read hand-marked paper ballots or other voting machines that produce a voter-verifiable paper ballot.

Designated polling places must be open for early voting on Monday through Saturday from at least 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and on Sunday from at least 10 a.m.to 6 p.m.

New Jersey becomes the 25th state to require early, in-person voting by machine. According to an NJ Spotlight News report by Senior Writer Colleen O’Dea, the bill requires each county that does not already have machines with a voter-verifiable paper ballot (16 of the 21 counties) to purchase enough machines to allow for early voting.

According to the article: “State law requires that all new voting machines must have a paper trail for auditing results. All counties would have to purchase electronic poll books, which would allow poll workers to look up voter registrations in real time and to prevent people from voting more than once. The electronic poll books need to be secure to prevent hacking and they need to work with the Statewide Voter Registration System, which election officials say continues to be fraught with problems.”

At yesterday’s virtual signing of the bill, Secretary of State Tahesha Way commented, “As New Jersey’s chief election officer, I welcome this opportunity to make our state even more voter-friendly. In person early voting will strengthen our democracy by providing voters with more options to cast their ballot.”

Primary sponsors for S3203 include Senators Nia H. Gill, Linda R. Greenstein, Shirley K. Turner, and Assembly members Andrew Zwicker, Joseph Danielsen, and Verlina Reynolds-Jackson.

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