New Jersey Legislature Passes Two Bills to Make Voting More Accessible
Legislation to Establish Early Voting and Allow Equitable Dropbox Placement Ready for Governor’s Signature
NEWARK – The New Jersey Legislature today passed two pro-democracy bills that will help make voting more robust and accessible to voters in New Jersey, particularly in Black and other communities of color.
After previous passage in the Assembly, the Senate passed legislation (S3203/A4830) to establish early in-person voting, bringing the state a step closer to joining many other states that already provide this option for casting a ballot.
Both the Senate and the Assembly passed A5373/S3596, allowing for dropboxes that are currently within 2000 feet of one another to be moved to another location in the municipality, a system that will particularly benefit voters of color in cities such as Newark and Camden.
"The passage of these bills makes for a big day for democracy expansion in New Jersey, and we look forward to the Governor’s signing them into law in time for the November elections,” said Henal Patel, Democracy & Justice Director at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. “Early in-person voting encourages participation by more people, increases satisfaction and results in shorter lines on Election Day – and is particularly important for Black communities in New Jersey who will now be able to participate in Souls to the Polls, a long-honored tradition throughout the country. Permitting the relocation of dropboxes will allow for a more equitable dropbox placement scheme, particularly for New Jersey’s cities.”
“While too many states attempt to roll back voting rights and restrict access to the ballot, New Jersey continues to lead the fight for a more accessible and inclusive democracy,” said Jesse Burns, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey. “We applaud the Legislature’s commitment to removing obstacles to the ballot in recognition of the simple truth that our democracy is better when all voices can participate.”
"Passing legislation for early voting and allowing more equitable dropbox placement will expand our democracy for New Jersey's Black voters, who have historically faced obstacles to the ballot," said Richard Smith, President of the NAACP New Jersey State Conference. "We are pleased to see these bills passed, and await the Governor's signing them into law."
"Increasing access to the ballot box is a key step in strengthening our democracy. Access is especially important for Black communities, communities of color, immigrants and low-income communities, who have been historically disenfranchised and targeted by harmful policies and systemic barriers that limit voting rights. We commend the Legislature for passing two critical pieces of legislation: S3203/A4830 to establish early voting and A5373/S3596 allowing for more equitable dropbox placement. These bills will make voting easier and more accessible and help New Jerseyans have options for exercising their right to vote. The passage of these bills strengthens our electoral process and moves us a step closer towards building a stronger, more equitable state,” said Alejandra Sorto, Campaign Strategist at ACLU of New Jersey.
A third bill to limit police presence within 100 feet of voting locations except when responding to emergencies (A4655/S3595 passed in the Assembly and must be voted on in the Senate on a future date.