ASSEMBLY, No. 3999

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

216th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED DECEMBER 15, 2014

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman  DECLAN J. O'SCANLON, JR.

District 13 (Monmouth)

Assemblyman  CARMELO G. GARCIA

District 33 (Hudson)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Limits transmission of ballots by messenger or bearer to two ballots; limits time to allow ballots to be distributed to and by messenger to within 10 days before election.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning the transmission and return of vote by mail ballots and amending P.L.2009, c.79.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    Section 4 of P.L.2009, c.79 (C.19:63-4) is amended to read as follows:

     4.    a.  A qualified voter is entitled to apply for and obtain a mail-in ballot by authorized messenger, who shall be so designated over the signature of the voter and whose printed name and address shall appear on the application in the space provided.  The authorized messenger shall be a family member or a registered voter of the county in which the application is made and shall place his or her signature on the application in the space so provided in the presence of the county clerk or the designee thereof.  No person shall serve as an authorized messenger or as an authorized bearer for more than [10] two qualified voters in an election.  No person who is a candidate in the election for which the voter requests a mail-in ballot shall be permitted to serve as an authorized messenger or bearer.  The authorized messenger shall show a photo identification card to the county clerk, or the designee thereof, at the time the messenger submits the application form. The county clerk or the designee thereof shall authenticate the signature of the authorized messenger in the event such a person is other than a family member, by comparing it with the signature of the person appearing on a State of New Jersey driver's license, or other identification issued or recognized as official by the federal government, the State, or any of its political subdivisions, providing the identification carries the full address and signature of the person.  After the authentication of the signature on the application, the county clerk or the designee thereof is authorized to approve the application, except that the clerk or designee shall deliver to the authorized messenger a ballot to be delivered to the qualified voter.

     b.    The Secretary of State shall cause to be prepared a standard authorized messenger application form, which may be included with the mail-in ballot application forms.  The authorized messenger section of the application shall contain the following language above the signature of the authorized messenger: "I do hereby certify that I will deliver the mail-in ballot directly to the voter and no other person, under penalty of law within the 10-day period before the election in which I am serving as an authorized messenger."

(cf: P.L.2009, c.79, s.4)


     2.    Section 6 of P.L.2009, c.79 (C.19:63-6) is amended to read as follows:

     6.    a.  The county clerk, in the case of any Statewide election, countywide election, or school election in a regional or other school district comprising more than one municipality; the municipal clerk, in the case of any municipal election or school election in a school district comprising a single municipality; and the commissioners or other governing or administrative body of the district, in the case of any election to be held in any fire district or other special district, other than a municipality, created for specified public purposes within one or more municipalities, shall publish the following notice in substantially the following form:

     NOTICE TO PERSONS WANTING MAIL-IN BALLOTS

     If you are a qualified and registered voter of the State who wants to vote by mail in the......................... (school, municipal, primary, general, or other) election to be held on................. (date of election) complete the application form below and send to the undersigned, or write or apply in person to the undersigned at once requesting that a mail-in ballot be forwarded to you.  The request must state your home address and the address to which the ballot should be sent.  The request must be dated and signed with your signature.

     If any person has assisted you to complete the mail-in ballot application, the name, address and signature of the assistor must be provided on the application, and you must sign and date the application for it to be valid and processed.  No person shall serve as an authorized messenger or as an authorized bearer for more than [10] two qualified voters in an election.  No person who is a candidate in the election for which the voter requests a mail-in ballot may provide any assistance in the completion of the ballot or may serve as an authorized messenger or bearer.

     No mail-in ballot will be provided to any applicant who submits a request therefor by mail unless the request is received at least seven days before the election and contains the requested information.  A voter may, however, request an application in person from the county clerk up to 3 p.m. of the day before the election.

     Voters who want to vote only by mail in all future general elections in which they are eligible to vote, and who state that on their application shall, after their initial request and without further action on their part, be provided a mail-in ballot by the county clerk until the voter requests that the voter no longer be sent such a ballot. A voter's failure to vote in the fourth general election following the general election at which the voter last voted may result in the suspension of that voter's ability to receive a mail-in ballot for all future general elections unless a new application is completed and filed with the county clerk.

     Voters also have the option of indicating on their mail-in ballot applications that they would prefer to receive mail-in ballots for each election that takes place during the remainder of this calendar year.  Voters who exercise this option will be furnished with mail-in ballots for each election that takes place during the remainder of this calendar year, without further action on their part.

     Application forms may be obtained by applying to the undersigned either in writing or by telephone, or the application form provided below may be completed and forwarded to the undersigned.

     Dated.....................................................

............................................................................

        (signature and title of county clerk)

       .................................... 

         (address of county clerk)

       ....................................

         (telephone no. of county clerk)

     b.    (1) The Secretary of State shall be responsible for providing all information regarding overseas ballots to each overseas voter eligible for such a ballot pursuant to P.L.1976, c.23 (C.19:59-1 et seq.).  The secretary shall also make available valid overseas voter registration and ballot applications to any voter who is a member of the armed forces of the United States and who is a permanent resident of this State, or who is an overseas voter who wishes to register to vote or to vote in any jurisdiction in this State.  The secretary shall provide such public notice as may be deemed necessary to inform members of the armed forces of the United States and overseas voters how to obtain valid overseas voter registration and ballot applications.

     (2)   The Secretary of State shall undertake a program to inform voters in this State about their eligibility to vote by mail pursuant to this act.  Dissemination of this information shall be included in the standard notices required by this section and other provisions of current law, including but not limited to the notice requirements of R.S.19:12-7, and shall be effectuated by such means as the secretary deems appropriate and to the extent that funds for such dissemination are appropriated including, but not limited to, by means of Statewide or local electronic media, public service announcements broadcast by such media, notices on the Internet site of the Department of State or any other department or agency of the Executive Branch of State government or its political subdivisions deemed appropriate by the secretary, and special mailings or notices in newspapers or other publications circulating in the counties or municipalities of this State.

     c.    The mail-in ballot materials shall contain a notice that any person voting by mail-in ballot who has registered by mail after January 1, 2003, who did not provide personal identification information when registering and is voting for the first time in his or her current county of residence following registration shall include copies of the required identification information with the mail-in ballot, and that failure to include such information shall result in the rejection of the ballot.

     d.    The notice provided for in subsection a. of this section shall be published before the 55th day immediately preceding the holding of any election.

     Notices relating to any Statewide or countywide election shall be published in at least two newspapers published in each county.  All officials charged with the duty of publishing such notices shall publish the same in at least one newspaper published in each municipality or district in which the election is to be held, or if no newspaper is published in the municipality or district, then in a newspaper published in the county and circulating in the municipality or district.  All such notices shall be display advertisements.

(cf: P.L.2011, c.134, s.50)

 

     3.    Section 9 of P.L.2009, c.79 (C.19:63-9) is amended to read as follows:

     9.    a. Starting on or before the 45th day before the day an election is held, each county clerk shall forward mail-in ballots by first-class postage or hand delivery to each mail-in voter whose request therefor has been approved.  Mail-in ballots that have been approved before the 45th day before an election shall be forwarded or delivered at least 45 days before the day of the election.  Hand delivery of a mail-in ballot shall be made by the county clerk or the clerk's designee only to the voter, or the voter's authorized messenger, who must appear in person only within the 10-day period before an election in which the person intends to serve as an authorized messenger.  No person shall serve as an authorized messenger for more than [10] two qualified voters in an election.  Ballots that have not been hand delivered shall be addressed to the voter at the forwarding address given in the application.

     b.    (1) Whenever the clerk forwards a mail-in ballot by mail to a mail-in voter between the 45th day and the 13th day before the day of an election, the ballot shall be transmitted within three business days of the receipt of the application.

     (2)   Whenever the clerk forwards a mail-in ballot by mail to a mail-in voter between the 12th day and the seventh day before the day of an election, the ballot shall be transmitted within two business days of the receipt of the application.

     The provisions of this subsection shall not apply to: (a) annual school elections and special school elections in those school districts holding such elections, pursuant to P.L.1995, c.278 (C.19:60-1 et seq.); (b) any municipality in which elections are conducted by mail, pursuant to P.L.2005, c.148 (C.19:62-1 et seq.); (c) annual elections for members of the boards of fire district commissions, pursuant to N.J.S.40A:14-72; and (d) the vote on any public question submitted to the voters of a local unit to increase the amount to be raised by taxation by more than the allowable adjusted tax levy, pursuant to section 11 of P.L.2007, c.62 (C.40A:4-45.46).

     c.    (Deleted by amendment, P.L.2011, c.37)

(cf: P.L.2011, c.37, s.31)

 

     4.    Section 12 of P.L.2009, c.79 (C.19:63-12) is amended to read as follows:

     12.  Each county clerk shall send, with each mail-in ballot, printed directions for the preparation and transmitting of the ballots as required by this act.  The directions shall be printed in such manner and form as the Secretary of State shall require, together with two envelopes of such sizes that one will contain the other.

     The outer envelope shall be addressed to the county board of elections of the county in which is located the home address of the person to whom the mail-in ballot is sent, as certified by the county clerk.  At the discretion of the county clerk, the outer envelope may be a postage paid return envelope.  On the outside and front of each outer envelope, there shall be printed or stamped the following:

     To protect your vote:

     IT IS AGAINST THE LAW FOR ANYONE EXCEPT YOU THE VOTER TO MAIL OR TRANSPORT THIS BALLOT UNLESS THE ENVELOPE IS SEALED AND THE FOLLOWING IS COMPLETED:

     Ballot mailed or transported by

      (signature of bearer)

      (print name of bearer)

      (address of bearer)

     The reserve side of the outer envelope shall contain the following:

     REMINDER

     For your vote to count, you must:

     1)    Vote your ballot and place it in the inner envelope with the attached certificate.

     2)    Seal the envelope.

     3)    Place the envelope into the larger envelope addressed to the board of elections and seal that envelope.

     4)    If another person will be mailing your ballot or bringing it to the board of elections, MAKE CERTAIN THAT PERSON COMPLETES THE "BEARER PORTION" ON THE ENVELOPE ADDRESSED TO THE BOARD OF ELECTIONS BEFORE THE BALLOT IS TAKEN FROM YOU.  NO PERSON WHO IS A CANDIDATE IN THE ELECTION FOR WHICH THE VOTER REQUESTS THIS BALLOT IS PERMITTED TO SERVE AS A BEARER.  NO PERSON IS PERMITTED TO SERVE AS A BEARER FOR MORE THAN TWO QUALIFIED VOTERS IN AN ELECTION.

     The Secretary of State is authorized to make such changes to the instructions for mail-in ballot materials as the Secretary of State deems necessary or as is mandated by federal or State law.

     The inner envelope shall be so designed that it can be sealed after the mail-in ballot has been placed therein and the flap thereof shall be of such length and size as to leave sufficient margin, after sealing, for the printing thereon of the certificate hereinafter described.  The flap shall be so arranged that, after the inner envelope has been sealed, the certificate can be contained, with the inner envelope, in the outer envelope, and that the margin containing the certificate can be detached without unsealing the inner envelope.

     On the outside of each envelope in which a mail-in ballot is sent to a mail-in voter by the clerk, there shall be printed or stamped the words "Official Mail-In Ballot."  In addition, there shall be printed or stamped the following:

     To protect your vote:

     IT IS AGAINST THE LAW FOR ANYONE EXCEPT YOU THE VOTER TO OPEN, MARK, INSPECT OR SEAL THIS BALLOT.

     However, a family member may assist you in doing so.

     The reverse side of each inner envelope shall contain the following statement:

     A PERSON MAY BE FINED AND IMPRISONED AND MAY ALSO LOSE THE RIGHT TO VOTE UNTIL RESTORED BY LAW if that person attempts to vote fraudulently by mail-in ballot, prevents the voting of a legal voter, certifies falsely any information, interferes with a person's secrecy of voting, tampers with ballots or election documents or helps another person to do so.

(cf: P.L.2009, c.79, s.12)

 

     5.    Section 16 of P.L.2009, c.79 (C.19:63-16) is amended to read as follows:

     16.  a.  A mail-in voter shall be entitled to mark any mail-in ballot forwarded to the voter for voting at any election by indicating the voter's choice of candidates for the offices named, and as to public questions, if any, stated thereon, in accordance with current law.  In the case of ballots to be voted for any primary election for the general election, as the case may be, the voter's choice shall be limited to the candidates of the voter's political party or to any person or persons whose names are written thereon by the voter.  When so marked, such ballot shall be placed in the inner envelope, which shall then be sealed, and the voter shall then fill in the form of certificate attached to the inner envelope, at the end of which the voter shall sign and print the voter's name.  The inner envelope with the certificate shall then be placed in the outer envelope, which shall then be sealed.

     b.    No mail-in voter shall permit any person in any way, except as provided by this act, to unseal, mark or inspect the voter's ballot, interfere with the secrecy of the voter's vote, complete or sign the certificate, or seal the inner or outer envelope, nor shall any person do so.

     c.    A mail-in voter shall be entitled to assistance from a family member in performing any of the actions provided for in this section.  The family member or other person providing such assistance shall certify that he or she assisted the voter and will maintain the secrecy of the vote by both printing and signing his or her name in the space provided on the certificate.  In no event may a candidate for election provide such assistance, nor may any person, at the time of providing such assistance, campaign or electioneer on behalf of any candidate.

     d.    (1) The sealed outer envelope with the inner envelope and the ballot enclosed therein shall then either be mailed to the county board of elections to which it is addressed or delivered personally by the voter or a bearer designated by the voter to the board.  To be counted, the ballot must be received by the board or its designee before the time designated by R.S.19:15-2 or R.S.19:23-40 for the closing of the polls, as may be appropriate, on the day of an election.

     (2)   Whenever a person delivers a ballot to the county board, that person shall sign a record maintained by the county of all mail-in ballots personally delivered to it.

     (3)   No person shall serve as an authorized messenger or as an authorized bearer for more than [10] two qualified voters in an election.  No person who is a candidate in the election for which the voter requests a mail-in ballot shall be permitted to serve as an authorized messenger or bearer.  The bearer, by signing the certification provided for in section 12 of P.L.2009, c.79 (C.19:63-12), certifies that he or she received a mail-in ballot directly from the voter, and no other person, and is authorized to deliver the ballot to the appropriate board of election or designee on behalf of the voter.

(cf: P.L.2011, c.134, s.54)

 

     6.    This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill would prohibit an individual from serving as an authorized messenger for a mail-in ballot for more than two qualified voters in an election.  Presently, an authorized messenger is permitted to receive and deliver mail-in ballots from the county board of election to up to 10 qualified voters. 

     Additionally, this bill would require that an authorized messenger distribute mail-in ballots to qualified voters only within the ten-day period before a particular election.  Presently, there is no time restriction as to when an authorized messenger may distribute ballots prior to an election.

     Further, this bill would limit an authorized bearer from mailing or transporting voted ballots to the county board of election on behalf of more than two qualified voters in an election.  Under current law, an authorized bearer is permitted to deliver an unlimited number of mail-in election ballots completed by qualified voters to the county board of election.