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A New Jersey State Police Trooper. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe)

Assembly to hear bill limiting police presence at polling places

By Nikita Biryukov, October 16 2020 10:59 am

The Assembly State and Local Government will hear a bill that would keep police officers away from polling places outside of emergencies and their own voting needs on Monday.

The measure would block police departments from posting officers at polling places and bars election board workers from requesting officers be deployed to a polling place. It also bars law enforcement officers from serving as challengers for party organizations, candidates and referendums.

The bill — sponsored by Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds Jackson (D-Trenton), Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly (D-Paterson) and State Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Ewing) — would ban police officers, including ones who are off-duty and out of uniform, from standing within 100 feet of a polling station for any purpose aside from voting.

Sources tell the New Jersey Globe the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice lobbied to advance the bill.

Municipal complexes that house police departments are used as polling places in some towns. The bill bars the installment of secure ballot drop boxes within 100 feet of a building housing a law enforcement agency.

The measure would not block board workers from calling police in case of an emergency.

The bill would go into effect 60 days after being passed, meaning it won’t be enacted in time for this year’s general election.

The Assembly State and Local Government Committee is set to hear the measure Monday.

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