The Assembly Appropriations Committee this afternoon released A2131, which enables police officers to be present at senior residential center or school being used as polling place under certain circumstances; requires school to establish election day security plan.
The bill came in response to a voting reform package signed earlier this year by Governor Phil Murphy.
“While this bill rolls back some of this provisions it doesn’t go far enough,” complained Assemblyman Brian Bergen (R-25), who argued that GOP lawmakers presented reasonable amendments.
“You seek to oppress anything we try to do,” Bergen told his Democratic Party colleagues. “I find it appalling that a small left faction.. has a vice grip on your policies related to policing. I object to how you treat our police officers fundamentally. I vote yes because it’s a small step forward.”
Assemblyman Kevin Rooney (R-40) and Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-26) concurred.
“We will give you every opportunity to improve this bill on the floor,” said Webber.
The League of Women Voters opposed the bill because of perceived voter suppression that could arise as a consequence of a stepped police presence at polling places.
“I am mindfully aware my colleagues on the other side of the aisle see this as fodder; I am troubled at voting against the League of Women Voters,” said Assemblyman Gary Schaer (D-36). “They are concerned about assumptions.”
Assemblywoman Carol Murphy (D-7) said, “This is not a referendum on our police. I have the utmost respect for them and communicate with them on our bills. We do need to have police officers in our schools when it comes to polling centers. These are people in need of the most protections.”
“This bill is about protecting our youth and our seniors,” said Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D-31).
Added Assemblyman Herb Conaway (D-7), “We continue to hear from colleagues on the other side that they disrespect the lived experiences who don’t share the lived experiences. Persons of color will have negative interactions with police. Police have been involved shootings where by and large the people dead are people of color.”