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Senate Majority Conference Leader Vin Gopal. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Gopal’s ballot cure legislation approved by Senate committee

Election package also extends number of days properly postmarked bill could still be accepted from 2 to 6

By David Wildstein, August 20 2020 12:12 pm

Legislation sponsored by State Sen. Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch) to offer voters an opportunity to fix technical errors in a vote-by-mail ballot to avoid rejection by county election officials cleared the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee today.

“The Ballot Cure Act,” requires election officials to notify voters with 72 hours of receiving their ballot – or within 48 hours of Election Day – to provide an explanation for the potential rejection and an opportunity to repair the defect.

The Gopal bill proposes that “mail-in ballots would not be rejected due to any defect arising out of or relating to the preparation or mailing of the ballot or envelope that was not reasonably caused by the voters, such as a torn envelope and missing or insufficient glue to allow the ballot to be sealed.”

New Jersey settled a lawsuit earlier this year by extending the deadline to certify the results of the July 7 primary election so that signature issues on vote-by-mail ballots.

According to Gopal’s bill, over 2,100 voters in the 2019 general election were disenfranchised because they didn’t sign their Certificate of Mail-in Voter, and another 1,500 votes were not counted because their signatures didn’t match.

The proposal also looks to update current election law to use exiting technology for voters to check the status of their own ballot.

The Senate committee also approved a bill also introduced by Gopal to expand the number of days a ballot postmarked by Election Day could be accepted by county election officials from two days to six.

Gov. Phil Murphy had expanded the number to seven days for the 2020 primary and general elections.

Gopal’s bill also requires election officials to take steps to increase public awareness of voting by mail options.

State Sen. Christopher Brown (R-Ventnor) voted against both measures in committee.

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