ASSEMBLY APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE
ASSEMBLY, No. 683
with committee amendments
STATE OF NEW JERSEY
DATED: MAY 8, 2014
The Assembly Appropriations Committee reports favorably Assembly Bill No. 683, with committee amendments.
This bill, as amended, requires mail-in ballot applications be available at polling places on election day for voting in future elections. The bill also requires the development and maintenance of Internet webpages to provide instructions for completing and mailing mail-in ballot applications.
The bill requires each county board of elections to make available mail-in ballot applications for future elections, and instructions detailing the process that an eligible voter must follow to apply to vote by mail in future elections, at each polling place on the day of any election. The bill also directs the Secretary of State and each county clerk to establish and maintain an Internet webpage that provides instructions for completing and mailing a mail-in ballot application for future elections.
Under the bill, the Internet webpage established by the Secretary of State and each county clerk must be accessible to the general public through a link prominently displayed on the official Internet website of the secretary or the county clerk, as the case may be.
The bill takes effect on the January 1 next following the date of enactment.
The Office of Legislative Services is unable to determine the net fiscal impact of the bill. There are potential cost savings and potential cost increases that may materialize following enactment.
Savings may result from reduced mailing costs for local governments, especially to the county clerks, who are responsible for producing and transmitting the applications for mail-in ballots, as well as a decrease in the amount of processing required by personnel in the office of the county clerk responsible for receiving the requests for applications and transmitting them back to the requestors. The amount of potential saving is difficult to determine.
Potential cost increases include the cost of producing and distributing mail-in applications for each polling place in a county (further complicated by the inability of elections officials to predict before any given election how many voters will request the applications), and the cost to develop and maintain an Internet webpage to provide instructions for mail-in ballot applications. These costs are dependent on unknowns that are related to the number of voters who are likely to request mail-in ballot applications and the existing technological capacity of the Secretary of State and each county clerk to establish and maintain Internet webpages capable of providing instructions and other information to the general public.
The amendments clarify that each county board of elections, and not the Secretary of State, is responsible for making mail-in ballot applications for future elections at each polling place on election day.
The amendments replace a provision that required the Secretary of State to ensure that each poll worker at each polling place is trained on the instructions for completing and mailing a mail-in ballot application, with a provision that requires the secretary and each county clerk to establish and maintain an Internet webpage that provides instructions for completing and mailing a mail-in ballot application.