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

Assembly panel advances bill extending VBM grace period

By Nikita Biryukov, August 13 2020 2:36 pm

An Assembly panel advanced a measure that would statutorily extend the grace period for late-arriving mail-in ballots to six days after the close of polls Thursday.

The measure — sponsored by Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin (D-East Brunswick), Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (D-South Brunswick) and Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalloti (D-Bayonne) — cleared the Assembly State and Local Government Committee in a 4-2 vote along party lines.

“The COVID-19 pandemic will understandably complicate our elections process this fall,” the sponsors said. “However, voting is integral to our democracy, and the pandemic doesn’t change the fact that every voter should be able to safely and conveniently exercise their right to vote.”

If made law, the bill would extend the grace period for late-arriving ballots postmarked by election day from 48 hours to 144 hours after the close of polls. It would also eliminate the postmark requirements for ballots that reach election officials 48 hours after voting ends.

Further, the bill would allow municipal clerks to accept in-person deliveries of completed mail-in ballots and vote-by-mail applications.

“As we expect more people will use mail-in ballots in this election, we must address problems we’ve had in the past when valid mail-in ballots were not counted due to delivery delays,” the sponsors said. “Our goal with this legislation is to reduce the number of mail-in ballots that are rejected because they were not delivered in a very short window of time.”

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