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New Jersey Statehouse in Trenton. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Assembly panel advances bill extending clerks’ VBM deadline

Full body to consider measure later Monday

By Nikita Biryukov, March 16 2020 12:17 pm

Assembly lawmakers advanced a measure giving county clerks an additional week to send out mail-in ballots Monday.

The bill, part of a larger package of measures meant to better prepare the state to deal with the threat posed by COVID-19, passed unanimously with a small number of technical amendments.

Mail-in ballots for military members serving overseas and other American voters living abroad must still be sent out 45 days before the June 2 primary.

Clerks won’t have to send out mail-in ballots for other voters until 38 days before the primary.

The amendments require clerks to draw for ballot positions a day early if the statutory deadline falls on a holiday and mandates the clerk publicize notice of such an early draw.

The full Assembly will take up the measure at its 2 p.m. session. The Senate is set to consider the COVID-19 bill package next Monday.

Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin said there isn’t currently a measure requiring the state to cover the return postage of a mail-in ballot, though he and Assembly Minority Leader said such a bill could come later.

“This is not the last piece of legislation we’re going to do together,” Bramnick said. “This is the beginning of legislation. We’ll be on the phone and back and forth. I’ll be in touch with my caucus, the speaker as well.”

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