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Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Another Assembly panel to hear early voting bill

Assembly Appropriations Committee to vote on measure Thursday

By Nikita Biryukov, January 04 2021 11:30 am

The Assembly Appropriations Committee will hear a bill legalizing in-person early voting on Thursday.

The measure, which passed the Assembly State and Local Government Committee in a party-line vote in October, would allow for 15 days of in-person early voting ahead of election day and requires an appropriation that will likely cost the state more than $20 million.

Specifically, the early voting period would two weeks of early voting, beginning 15 days before election day and ending the Sunday before polls open.

That money will mostly go toward purchasing electronic poll books, which will allow election officials to check in-person early votes against mail-in votes to prevent ballots being cast by the same person twice.

The bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (D-South Brunswick), has broad support from Trenton Democrats. Senate President Steve Sweeney has for years backed a bill that would allow for in-person early voting, along a swath of other election reforms, though the newer bill has yet to move in the Senate.

Gov. Phil Murphy has repeatedly said he’d support early voting, and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin is moving the measures through his chamber.

The move is likely to see opposition from Republicans — Assemblymen Erik Simonsen (R-Lower) and Ned Thompson (R-Wall) voted against the measure when it came before the State and Local Government Committee last year — but that resistance is unlikely to affect the bill’s chances of passing.

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