No New Jersey voter will ever again actually have to go to town hall, the firehouse or neighborhood school and stand in line to vote under legislation signed Tuesday by Gov. Jon Corzine.
Imagine, never having to roll out of bed on a cold November Tuesday morning to go vote. No more walking in the rain, sleet or snow. No more fighting for parking outside the polling place. No more standing in line in front of that guy with the strange cough.
However, a potential voter would have to get to a mailbox.
The new law does away with civilian and military absentee ballots, replacing them with a single, standardized mail-in ballot for use by any registered voter who wants to vote by mail.Registered voters will have the option to select to vote by mail for a year or for all future general elections. Once such a request is made, a county board of elections will be required to send a ballot to the voter without the need for further requests.
The measure also sets a clear schedule for county clerks to follow when fulfilling a mail-in ballot request. The schedule requires that requests for mail-in ballots are answered in a timely fashion.
Under the law, any person who applies for a mail-in ballot but does not receive it, has the application rejected, or fails to mail a completed ballot back to the board of elections will be permitted to vote via provisional ballot on Election Day.
"Choosing who to vote for can be a confusing and stressful process," said Assemblywoman Joan Quigley (D-Hudson), a sponsor of the legislation. "Casting a ballot shouldn't be. Moving to a true vote by mail system will make it easier for people to exercise their right to vote and increase public participation in the democratic process."
The measure (A-2451) repeals all absentee ballot statutes on the books in New Jersey, replacing them with simpler, more streamlined vote-by-mail procedures.
Since 2005, New Jersey has permitted any registered voter to cast an absentee ballot in any election for any reason. According to the sponsors, that system presented undue confusion for both voters and election workers during recent elections.