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The New Jersey Assembly voted along party lines today to pass VBM reform that will force county clerks to automatically send vote-by-mail ballots to any voters who used mail-in ballots in the 2016, 2017 and 2018 general elections.
The fast-tracked legislation was introduced on Friday and passed yesterday by the State Senate.
It now heads to Gov. Phil Murphy for his signature.
Murphy has indicated a willingness to sign the bill, but has not committed to it.
A source told the New Jersey Globe that Murphy will move quickly on the VBM reform bill and is expected to sign it.
VBM ballots are due to be mailed on September 21.
Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield), whose own seat could be jeopardized by the passage of the VBM bill, spoke out against it.
Assemblymen Anthony M. Bucco (R-Boonton), Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz (R-Summit) and Assemblyman Ryan Peters (R-Hainesport) — all potentially impacted by likely increase in mail-in ballots in an off-off-year election, also voted no. The bill passed the Assembly 44-014.
The insistence of the Legislature to fix the VBM law passed last year stems from a ruling by the state Division of Elections that forces voters who requested VBM in 2017 and 2018 to reapply if they want mail-in ballots for the November general election.
Murphy and legislative leaders sought a resolution to the problem but were unable to figure out an administrative change so far.
Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (D-South Brunswick), one of the sponsors of the legislation, disagrees. He says the legislative intent was to include 2017 and 2018.
This story was updated at 11:42 AM.