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Lawmakers introduce VBM reform bill

Cleanup bill meant to counter Murphy administration ruling

By Nikita Biryukov, August 23 2019 5:06 pm

State lawmakers introduced vote-by-mail reform bill meant to circumvent a Murphy administration ruling that blocked voters who requested mail-in ballots in 2017 and 2018 from receiving such ballots in perpetuity.

“The clerk of each county shall add to the list of registered voters receiving a mail-in ballot for all future elections without further request each voter in the county who requested and received a mail-in ballot for the 2016 general election, and each voter who requested and received a mail-in ballot for any election in 2017 and 2018 by filing a mail-in ballot application following the deadline for applying for a 2016 general election mail-in ballot,” a draft of the cleanup bill obtained by the New Jersey Globe reads.

Earlier this month, Murphy’s administration issued a ruling that said that under current law, which was implemented last year, the state’s county clerks can only add those who requested mail-in ballots in 2016 or before to the list of those to receive such ballots perpetually.

The new bill also provides a $2 million appropriation to cover the costs of the program. Those funds are pulled from the state’s general fund.

Assemblywoman Patricia Egan Jones is the bill’s prime sponsor in the Assembly.

Assembly members Pamela Lampitt, Adam Taliaferro, Andrew Zwicker, Verlina Reynolds-Jackson have also signed on as sponsors.

The bill was introduced during quorums scheduled in both chambers Friday. Few lawmakers made the trip to Trenton for the occasion.

Assemblyman Daniel Benson presided in the Assembly, while State Sen. Linda Greenstein was the member present for the upper-chamber’s proceedings.

Legislative rules allow lawmakers to call in for quorums rather than drive down to Trenton in person, so long as they are already in the state.

Linda Metzger, the secretary of the Senate, said most of the 28 legislators in the upper chamber who called into the quorum did so via text.

In the Assembly, 51 members called in. Aside from Benson, one member of the lower chamber, Assemblyman Tom Giblin, was at the statehouse in the flesh Friday.

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