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Senate committee approves early voting

Proposal calls for polling locations to be open 7 days a week for 15 days before elections

By David Wildstein, August 20 2020 11:57 am

A State Senate committee today approved a measure that would establish early voting in New Jersey next year.

The plan would establish early voting centers – the number would vary based on county population – for the 15 days prior to Election Day and would apply to general elections, as well as non-partisan municipal elections, including school board and fire commissioner, if the municipality requests it.

Early voting would be held on Monday through Saturday from 10 AM to 8 PM and on Sunday from 10 AM to 6 PM.

The measure was introduced by State Sen. Nia Gill (D-Montclair) and co-sponsored by State Sens. Brian Stack (D-Union City), Patrick Diegnan (D-South Plainfield) and Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch).
The Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee approved the bill along party lines, with Republicans Samuel Thompson (R-Old Bridge) and Christopher Brown (R-Ventnor) voting no.

County election officials would be required to update the Statewide Voter Registration System (SVRS) at least once a day during early voting.

The bill does not address special referendum elections.

Gov. Phil Murphy has been an early proponent of early voting and has suggested a 30-day period.

Last month, Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin told the New Jersey Globe that they were also prepared back the plan.

Sweeney has backed a bill that would allow 15 days of early voting since 2015, though none of those bills made it to a committee hearing.

Correction: an earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that primary elections were included in the bill.  They are not.

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