Senate Passes Sweeney’s VBM Bill

Senate President Steve Sweeney

The state Senate this morning passed the Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3)-sponsored S-4069, which requires that any voter who requested and received a mail-in ballot for any election in 2017 and 2018 by filing a mail-in ballot application following the deadline for applying for a 2016 general election mail-in ballot be added to the list of registered voters receiving a mail-in ballot for all future elections without further request from the voter.

The bill appropriates $2 million for implementation costs.

The vote was 22-10.

It came after a motion by state Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-26) to add amendments tabled by Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-37).

“The vote-by-mail expansion that we were here to fix was flawed for more reasons than those recently identified by the Secretary of State,” said Pennacchio, in explanation of his failed effort to put the brakes on the bill. “Voter fraud is very real in New Jersey, and much of that fraud centers on ballots not cast in a polling place. This legislation does nothing to prevent illegal aliens from voting or to stop campaign operatives from illegally registering people, collecting ballots, and rigging elections.”

Under current law, persons wishing to vote by mail may file an application to receive a mail-in ballot either for all future elections or for any single election. Pursuant to P.L.2018, c.72, these two choices were adopted to simplify the vote-by-mail application, consolidating prior categories of elections for voting by mail. The law required the county clerks to add to the list of registered voters receiving a mail-in ballot for all future elections without further request each voter in the county who requested and received a mail-in ballot for the 2016 general election. However, the law was silent on interim applications to vote by mail filed in 2016, 2017, and 2018, before the change in the vote-by-mail application became effective on August 10, 2018.

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