[First Reprint]

SENATE, No. 92

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

217th LEGISLATURE

 

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2016 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  JIM WHELAN

District 2 (Atlantic)

Assemblywoman  GABRIELA M. MOSQUERA

District 4 (Camden and Gloucester)

Assemblywoman  PATRICIA EGAN JONES

District 5 (Camden and Gloucester)

Assemblyman  WAYNE P. DEANGELO

District 14 (Mercer and Middlesex)

Assemblyman  VINCENT MAZZEO

District 2 (Atlantic)

Assemblyman  GORDON M. JOHNSON

District 37 (Bergen)

Assemblyman  ERIC HOUGHTALING

District 11 (Monmouth)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman Downey, Assemblyman Conaway, Assemblywoman Lampitt, Assemblymen Chiaravalloti, Eustace and Barclay

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Revises “Overseas Residents Absentee Voting Law.”

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As amended on February 13, 2017 by the Senate pursuant to the Governor's recommendations.

  


An Act concerning voting by New Jersey’s overseas residents, and amending and supplementing various parts of the statutory law.

 

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

 

     1.    Section 2 of P.L.1976, c.23 (C.19:59-2) is amended to read as follows:

     2.    As used in this act:

     a.     "United States" means each of the several states, the District of Columbia, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa and the United States Virgin Islands; the term does not mean or include the Canal Zone or any other territory or possession of the United States.

     b.    "Residing abroad" means residing outside the United States.

     c.     ["Federal election" means any general, special or primary held for the purpose of nominating or electing any candidate for the office of President or Vice President of the United States, Presidential elector, United States Senator or member of the United States House of Representatives] 1"Federal election" means any general, special or primary held for the purpose of nominating or electing any candidate for the office of President or Vice President of the United States, Presidential elector, United States Senator or member of the United States House of Representatives.

     d.1 “Election” shall have the same meaning as defined in R.S.19:1-1, and include any federal, State, or local election, and any public question placed before the voters.

     1[d.] e.1 "Overseas voter" means any person in military service, or that person’s spouse, partner in civil union, domestic partner, or dependent, who, by reason of the person’s active duty or service, is, in the case of the person, absent on the date of an election from the place of residence in New Jersey where the person is or would be qualified to vote, [and] or in the case of the person’s spouse, partner in civil union, domestic partner, or dependent, absent on the date of an election from the place of residence in New Jersey where that spouse, partner in civil union, domestic partner, or dependent, is or would be qualified to vote.

     The term also means any citizen of the United States 1temporarily1 residing abroad who (1) immediately prior to [his] departure from the United States was domiciled in New Jersey and (a) was last registered to vote, or [had all the qualifications] last eligible to register and vote, in New Jersey; or (b) [had all the qualifications] would have been eligible to register and vote in New Jersey [other than having] except that the citizen had not attained 18 years of age [but has since attained that age] the requirement of which has since been met; or (c) would have been eligible to register and vote in New Jersey [, but for residence , have the qualifications to register and vote in New Jersey] except that the citizen had not met the residency requirement; (2) [does not maintain a residence in the United States and] is not registered or qualified to vote elsewhere in the United States; and (3) holds a valid passport or passport card [of identity and registration] or other proof of citizenship issued under authority of the Secretary of State of the United States.

     1f. “Overseas federal election voter” means any citizen of the United States residing abroad who does not intend to return or whose intent to return is uncertain and who (1) immediately prior to departure from the United States was domiciled in New Jersey and (a) was last registered to vote, or last eligible to register and vote, in New Jersey; or (b) would have been eligible to register and vote in New Jersey except that the citizen had not attained 18 years of age the requirement of which has since been met; or (c) would have been eligible to register and vote in New Jersey except that the citizen had not met the residency requirement; (2) is not registered or qualified to vote elsewhere in the United States;  and (3) holds a valid passport or passport card or other proof of citizenship issued under authority of the Secretary of State of the United States.1

     The term also means any citizen of the United States who was born outside of the United States, is not described above, and, except for the residency requirement of New Jersey, otherwise satisfies the State’s voter eligibility requirements, if the last place where a parent 1[or],1 legal guardian 1, spouse, partner in civil union, or domestic partner1 of the voter was, or under P.L.1976, c.23 (C.19:59-1 et seq.) would have been, eligible to register and vote before departure from the United States is within New Jersey and the voter has not previously registered to vote elsewhere in the United States.

     1[e.] g.1 "Electronic means" means any transmission made by an electronic telefacsimile machine or a similar device or by any other form of electronic transmission including, but not exclusive to electronic mail, that transports an authentic copy of a document from one user to another.

     1[f.] h.1 “Dependent” means an individual recognized as a dependent by a military service.

     1[g.] i.1 “Federal postcard application” means the application prescribed under section 101 of Pub.L.99-410 (42 U.S.C. s.1973ff(b)(2)).

     1[h.] j.1 “Federal write-in absentee ballot” means the ballot described under section 103 of Pub.L.99-410 (42 U.S.C. s.1973ff-2).

     1[i.] k.1 “Military service” means the active and reserve components of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard of the United States; the Merchant Marine; the commissioned corps of the Public Health Service or the commissioned corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States; or the National Guard or State militia.

(cf: P.L.2008, c.61, s.2)

 

     2.    Section 3 of P.L.1976, c.23 (C.19:59-3) is amended to read as follows:

     3.    Upon compliance with the provisions of this act, P.L.1976, c.23 (C.19:59-1 et seq.), 1as amended by P.L.   , c.  (C.     ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill): a. any person meeting the qualifications of an overseas voter may register to vote and may apply for and vote by mail-in ballot in any election held in the election district of this State in which the voter was formerly domiciled; and b.1 any person meeting the qualifications of an ["Overseas voter"] overseas 1federal election1 voter may register to vote and may apply for and vote by 1[absentee] mail-in1 ballot in any 1federal1 election held in the election district of this State in which the voter, or in the case of an overseas 1federal election1 voter who was born outside of the United States described 1[in paragraph (3) of subsection d. of section 2 of P.L.1976, c.23 (C.19:59-2), in which the voter’s parent or legal guardian, was] in subsection f. of section 2 of P.L.1976, c. 23 (C.19:59-2), in which the voter’s parent, legal guardian, spouse, partner in civil union, or domestic partner was1 formerly domiciled.

(cf: P.L.2008, c.61, s.3)

 

     3.    Section 4 of P.L.1976, c.23 (C.19:59-4) is amended to read as follows:

     4.    a.  Requests for an application to vote in an election as an overseas voter 1or a federal election as an overseas federal election voter1 may be made by or on behalf of an applicant to the county clerk of the county in which the applicant, or in the case of an overseas 1federal election1 voter who was born outside of the United States 1[described in paragraph (3) of subsection d. of section 2 of P.L.1976, c.23 (C.19:59-2), in which the applicant’s parent or legal guardian] described in subsection f. of section 2 of P.L.1976, c.23 (C.19:59-2), in which the voter’s parent, legal guardian, spouse, partner in civil union, or domestic partner,1 was formerly domiciled, or to the Secretary of State of New Jersey if the applicant does not know the county of [the applicant's] former domicile.  All such applications shall be forwarded to such voters by air mail or electronic means, if so requested by the voter. Any overseas voter 1or overseas federal election voter1 requesting that an application for a ballot be sent to that voter by electronic means shall supply in the request to the Secretary of State or the county clerk, as appropriate, the telephone number and location to which the application is to be sent or the electronic address of the voter, as may be appropriate, and, if known, the address where the voter, or the voter’s parent 1[or],1 legal guardian, 1spouse, partner in civil union, or domestic partner,1 as appropriate, was domiciled before departure from the United States.  To qualify [an applicant] for a ballot to be sent [a ballot] by air mail [in order to vote in an election], the applicant's completed application shall be received by the appropriate county clerk or the Secretary of State on or before the thirtieth day preceding the election. To qualify [an applicant to be sent] for a ballot to be distributed by electronic means [in order to vote in an election], the applicant's completed application shall be received by the appropriate county clerk [on or before the fourth day] or the Secretary of State 1[by 3:00 p.m. on the day] on or before the fourth day1 preceding the election.

     b.    An overseas voter 1or overseas federal election voter1 may use the federal postcard application form to register to vote or to apply for an overseas ballot for [a federal] any election 1in which the voter is eligible to vote1.  The voter may send the form by air mail or electronic means to either the appropriate county clerk or the Secretary of State and, in the case of [an] the use of a federal postcard application for a ballot, may request that the ballot be sent by air mail or electronic means.  Any voter sending the form by electronic means shall also mail simultaneously the federal postcard application form to the appropriate county clerk or the Secretary of State.  Any federal postcard application for a ballot sent by an overseas voter 1or overseas federal election voter1 and received by a county clerk or the Secretary of State shall also be considered a request for registration if that voter is not already registered.

     1[c. An overseas voter may use the federal write-in absentee ballot to vote in an election or to vote in favor or against any public question placed before the voters in an election.  An overseas voter may use the federal write-in absentee ballot to register to vote, if that voter is not already registered, or to request an overseas ballot for all elections held during the calendar year in which the request is made.  The voter may send the federal write-in absentee ballot by air mail or electronic means to either the appropriate county clerk or the Secretary of State and, in the case of the use of a federal write-in absentee ballot as an application for an overseas ballot, may request that the ballot be sent by air mail or electronic means.  Any voter sending the federal write-in absentee ballot by electronic means shall also mail it simultaneously to the appropriate county clerk or the Secretary of State.]1

(cf: P.L.2008, c.61, s.4)

 

     4.    Section 5 of P.L.1976, c.23 (C.19:59-5) is amended to read as follows:

     5.    a.  [An] Other than a federal postcard application 1[or federal],1 1[write-in absentee ballot, an application for an overseas ballot shall] an application for a ballot by an overseas voter or overseas federal election voter shall1 be in substantially the following form:

     1[APPLICATION FOR AN OVERSEAS BALLOT]1

     I, the undersigned, certify the following as a basis for an application as citizen of the United States residing outside the United States to receive a ballot to be voted at the election to be held on ........ (date of election) [that is to say] for .......... (fill in elected office or public question, or both):

     1.    I am a citizen of the United States;

     2.    I presently reside at .................... (if mail should be addressed other than to my residence, also provide address for mail);

     3.    I was born on ..................... (month, day, year)

     4.    [a.] I hold a:

     a.     valid U.S. Passport # ............, dated .........., or

     b.    [I hold a United States Citizens Identity and Registration Card (Form FS 225) dated ............ issued by .................. (name and location of U.S. Embassy or Consulate)] valid U.S. Passport Card # ………., dated ………., or

     c.     valid Certificate of Citizenship 1[(Form N-600)]1, dated ………., or

     d.    other valid form of identification recognized as such under federal or state law: ………. (form of identification), dated ………..

     5.    a.  Immediately prior to taking up residence abroad I was domiciled in New Jersey and resided at ............ (street address), .............. (municipality), .............. (county) (If formerly registered to vote from that address check here    (     )  ) , or

     b.    I was born outside of the United States and my parent  1[or],1 legal guardian, 1spouse, partner in civil union, or domestic partner,1 before leaving the United States, was last domiciled in New Jersey, residing at ………. (street address), ………. (municipality), ……….(county).

     6.    I [do not maintain a domicile in the United States and] am not registered, entitled or applying to vote in any state other than New Jersey.

     7.    I understand that any false statement knowingly made in this application subjects me to the penalties provided by law for fraudulent voting.

           ....................           ..................... Applicant

                                      (Signature)

     Dated:.......................   .........................Applicant

                                      (Print or type name)

     b.    There shall also be sent to the applicant by air mail or electronic means such instructions and portions of the law or regulations as the Secretary of State shall direct.

     c.     Any overseas voter 1or overseas federal election voter1 requesting that a ballot be sent to that voter by electronic means shall indicate on the application for the ballot the telephone number and location to which the ballot is to be sent or the electronic address of the voter, as may be appropriate.

(cf: P.L.2008, c.61, s.5)

 

     5.    Section 6 of P.L.1976, c.23 (C.19:59-6) is amended to read as follows:

     6.    Each county clerk, upon receipt of an application for 1[an overseas ballot] a ballot by an overseas voter or overseas federal election voter1, including a federal postcard application, shall determine whether or not the applicant is qualified to vote such a ballot, make a list of those applications approved and disapproved, which list shall be open to inspection by election officials and the public, and shall forward an overseas ballot to each person whose application is approved. For each voter whose application is approved, the county clerk shall deliver to the county board of elections the completed application form for retention by the board for signature comparison with that on the certificate on the inner envelope containing the ballot upon its receipt.

(cf: P.L.2008, c.61, s.6)

 

     6.    Section 7 of P.L.1976, c.23 (C.19:59-7) is amended to read as follows:

     7.    [The] 1[Other than a federal write-in absentee ballot, the] The1 county clerk shall prescribe the form of the 1[overseas ballot] ballot for overseas voters and overseas federal election voters1.

(cf: P.L.2008, c.61, s.7)

 

     7.    Section 10 of P.L.1976, c.23 (C.19:59-10) is amended to read as follows:

     10.  a.  For 1[overseas ballots] ballots sent to overseas voters or overseas federal election voters,1 other than such ballots sent to the voter by electronic means, the procedure for completing the ballot shall be as follows:

     Upon completion of the ballot by indicating the voter's choice of candidates for the offices named or the voter’s choice regarding a public question, or both, the ballot shall be placed in the inner envelope and sealed.  Upon completion and signing in the voter's handwriting the certificate attached to the inner envelope, the inner envelope shall be placed in the outer envelope, which when sealed shall be mailed postage prepaid to the county board of elections whose address is printed thereon.

     b.    For 1[overseas ballots sent to the voter] ballots sent to overseas voters or overseas federal election voters1 by electronic means, the procedure for completing the ballot shall be as follows:

     After the ballot is received and completed by the voter by indicating that person's choice of candidates for the offices named or that person’s choice regarding a public question, or both, the ballot shall be placed in a secure envelope. Upon completion and signing in the voter's handwriting of the certificate sent to the voter pursuant to section 8 of P.L.1976, c.23 (C.19:59-8), it shall be placed in the same envelope as the voted ballot.  The envelope shall then be sealed securely and sent immediately by air mail to the appropriate county board of elections in this State.

     c.     Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections a. and b. of this section, a copy of 1[a voted overseas] an overseas voter’s or overseas federal election voter’s1 ballot may be transmitted by electronic means to the appropriate county board of elections in this State.  Such a ballot shall be subject to the provisions of sections 3 and 4 of P.L.1995, c.195 (C.19:59-14 and C.19:59-15).

(cf: P.L.2008, c.61, s.11)

 

     8.    Section 12 of P.L.1976, c.23 (C.19:59-12) is amended to read as follows:

     12.  An overseas voter 1or overseas federal election voter1 may request, on any application form used, 1[an overseas] a1 ballot for all elections held during the calendar year in which the request is made 1and in which the voter is eligible to vote1. Any instructions sent to an applicant pursuant to section 5 of P.L.1976, c.23 (C.19:59-5) shall inform the applicant that such a request may be made. If such a request is made, 1[an overseas] a1 ballot shall be sent in a timely manner to the voter for all such elections 1in which the voter is eligible to vote1 and by the transmission method first requested by the voter unless the voter instructs otherwise.

(cf: P.L.2008, c.61, s.13)

 

     1[9.  (New section)  An electronic address provided by an overseas voter to the county clerk or the Secretary of State shall not be made available to the public or any individual or organization other than an authorized agent of the county clerk or the Secretary of State and shall be exempt from disclosure under P.L.1963, c.73 (C.47:1A-1 et seq.).  The address may be used only for official communications with the voter that are related to the voting process, including transmitting ballots and election materials if the voter has requested electronic transmission, and verifying the voter’s mailing address and physical location.  The request for an electronic address shall describe the purposes for which the electronic address may be used and include a statement that any other use or disclosure of the electronic address is prohibited.]1

 

     1[10.  (New section)  If a voter’s mistake or omission in the completion of a document does not prevent a determination of whether a voter is eligible to vote, the mistake or omission shall not invalidate the document.  Failure to satisfy a technical requirement, such as using paper or envelopes of a specified size or weight, shall not invalidate the submitted document.  In the case of a federal write-in absentee ballot or a vote for a write-in candidate on a regular ballot, if the intention of the voter is discernable, an abbreviation, misspelling, or other minor variation in the form of the name of a candidate or a political party shall be accepted as a valid vote.

     This section shall be applied consistent with the requirements of subsection d. of section 4 of P.L.1995, c.195 (C.19:59-15).]1

 

     1[11.  (New section)  A court may issue an injunction or grant other appropriate equitable relief to ensure substantial compliance with, or enforcement of, the “Overseas Residents Absentee Voting Law,” P.L.1976, c.23 (C.19:59-1 et seq.) on application by a voter alleging a grievance under that law or by an election official in this State.]1

     1[12.] 9.1 Section 26 of P.L.2011, c.37 (C.19:59-16) is amended to read as follows:

     26.  For the purpose of complying with the federal “Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act,” 42 U.S.C. s.1973ff-1 et seq., the office of the Secretary of State shall:

     a.     be designated as the single State office responsible for providing information to all overseas voters 1and overseas federal election voters1 who wish to register to vote or vote in any jurisdiction in the State with respect to voter registration procedures and vote by mail procedures to be used by overseas voters 1and overseas federal election voters1 for all elections 1in which the voter is eligible to vote1 [for federal offices] ;

     b.    work with the federal Election Assistance Commission and the federal Department of Defense to develop standards to report data on the number of 1[overseas voter]1 ballots transmitted and received by mail or electronic means 1by overseas voters or overseas federal election voters1 pursuant to the “Overseas Residents Absentee Voting Law,” P.L.1976, c.23 (C.19:59-1 et seq.) and section 7 of P.L.2004, c.88 (C.19:61-7); and

     c.     provide such additional information relating to voting by overseas voters 1and overseas federal election voters1 from this State as the Department of Defense determines is necessary.

(cf: P.L.2011, c.37, s.26)

 

     1[13.] 10.1 R.S.19:31-6  is amended to read as follows:

     19:31-6.  Any person qualified to vote in an election shall be entitled to vote in the election if the person shall have registered to vote on or before the 21st day preceding the election by: 

     a.     registering in person at any offices designated by the commissioner of registration for providing and receiving registration forms;

     b.    completing a voter registration form while applying for a motor vehicle driver's license from an agent of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, as provided for in section 24 of P.L.1994, c.182 (C.39:2-3.2);

     c.     completing and returning to the [Attorney General] Secretary of State or having returned thereto a voter registration form received from a voter registration agency, as defined in subsection a. of section 26 of P.L.1994, c.182 (C.19:31-6.11), while applying for services or assistance or seeking a recertification, renewal or change of address at an office of that agency;

     d.    completing and returning to the [Attorney General] Secretary of State a voter registration form obtained from a public agency, as defined in subsection a. of section 15 of P.L.1974, c.30 (C.19:31-6.3);

     e.     completing and returning to the [Attorney General] Secretary of State or having returned thereto a voter registration form received from a door-to-door canvass or mobile registration drive, as provided for in section 19 of P.L.1974, c.30 (C.19:31-6.7);

     f.     completing and returning to the [Attorney General] Secretary of State a federal mail voter registration form, as prescribed in subsection (b) of section 9 of the "National Voter Registration Act of 1993," (42 U.S.C. s.1973gg et seq.);

     g.    completing and returning to the [Attorney General] Secretary of State or the appropriate county clerk an application for a federal postcard application form to register to vote, 1[or a federal write-in absentee ballot,]1 as [provided for in] permitted pursuant to the "Overseas Absentee Voting Act" (42 U.S.C. s.1973ff-1 et seq.) and section 4 of P.L.1976, c.23 (C.19:59-4);or

     h.    completing a provisional ballot affirmation statement and voting the provisional ballot in the previous election, if the person who submitted the provisional ballot in that election is determined not to be a registered voter .

     When the commissioner has designated a place or places other than his office for receiving registrations, the commissioner shall cause to be published a notice in a newspaper circulated in the municipality wherein such place or places of registration shall be located.  Such notice shall be published pursuant to R.S.19:12-7.

     Any office designated by the commissioner of registration for receiving registration forms shall have displayed, in a conspicuous location, registration and voting instructions.  These instructions shall be the same as those provided for polling places under R.S.19:9-2 and shall be provided by the commissioner.

(cf: P.L.2005, c.139, s.8)

 

     111.  Section 8 of P.L.1976, c.23 (C.19:59-8) is amended to read as follows:

     8. a.  Each county clerk shall send by air mail, with each [overseas] ballot for an overseas voter or overseas federal election voter transmitted by such means, appropriate printed instructions for its completion and return, together with an inner and outer envelope similar to that required as to civilian [absentee] vote by mail ballots with a legend on the inner envelope stating "[Overseas] Ballot for Overseas Voter” or “Ballot for Overseas Federal Election Voter,” as appropriate.["]

     b.    Each county clerk shall send to each overseas voter or overseas federal election voter requesting that a [an overseas] ballot be sent to that voter by electronic means all appropriate printed instructions for its completion and return. The printed instructions sent to each such voter shall include a certificate substantially the same as provided for in section 9 of P.L.1976, c.23 (C.19:59-9).

     c.     The printed instructions sent with each [overseas] ballot to an overseas voter or overseas federal election voter, including instructions sent by electronic means, shall include a copy of the following notice:

     PENALTY FOR FRAUDULENT VOTING

     Any person who knowingly violates any of the provisions of the Overseas Residents Absentee Voting Law, or who, not being entitled to vote thereunder, fraudulently votes or attempts to vote thereunder or enables or attempts to enable another person, not entitled to vote thereunder, to vote fraudulently thereunder or who prevents or attempts to prevent by fraud the voting of any person legally entitled to vote under this act, shall be guilty of an indictable offense, and upon conviction thereof shall be subject, in addition to such other penalties as are authorized by law, to disenfranchisement

 unless and until pardoned or restored by law to the right of suffrage.1

(cf:  P.L.2008, c.61, s.8)

 

     112.  Section 12 of P.L.1993, c.73 (C.19:59-8.1) is amended to read as follows:

     12.  Whenever a county clerk receives a request by electronic means from an overseas voter or overseas federal election voter that a [an overseas] ballot be sent to that person by electronic means, the county clerk shall verify the voter's eligibility to vote as an overseas voter or overseas federal election voter in the State and the county desired. If the overseas voter or overseas federal election voter is eligible to vote therein, the county clerk shall send the appropriate ballot to the voter at least 45 days before the day of the election and thereafter by electronic means using the telephone number or electronic address supplied by the voter for that purpose. If the overseas voter or overseas federal election voter is not eligible to vote in the State or the county desired, notice of noneligibility shall be provided to the voter by electronic means as soon as practicable after the receipt of the request.1

(cf:  P.L.2011, c.37, s.25)

 

     113. Section 9 of P.L.1976, c.23 (C.19:59-9) is amended to read as follows:

     9.    Upon the margin of the flap of the inner envelope to be sent to an overseas voter or overseas federal election voter shall be printed a certificate substantially as follows:

     I, the undersigned, residing at .................................. am the person who applied for, received and voted the enclosed [Overseas] Ballot.

Dated:...................

..............................Voter (SIGNATURE)

..............................Voter (PRINT or type name)1

(cf:  P.L.2008, c.61, s.10)

 

     114. Section 11 of P.L.1976, c.23 (C.19:59-11) is amended to read as follows:

     11. Upon receipt of each [overseas] ballot from an overseas voter or overseas federal election voter, other than a ballot which had been sent by electronic means to an overseas voter or overseas federal election voter, the signature on the certificate on the inner envelope shall be compared to that on the person's application. All ballots, whether originally sent to an overseas voter or overseas federal election voter by air mail or electronic means, shall be approved, disapproved, processed, counted and disputes in connection therewith shall be handled in the same manner as is applicable to other [absentee] vote by mail ballots. No ballot received after the time designated for the closing of the polls shall be counted.1

(cf:  P.L.2008, c.61, s.12)

 

     115.  Section 3 of P.L.1995, c.195 (C.19:59-14) is amended to read as follows:

     3.    Notwithstanding any law, rule or regulation to the contrary, a copy of [a] an overseas voter’s or overseas federal election voter’s voted [overseas] ballot, or [of] a voted federal write-in absentee ballot, which is transmitted by electronic means to the appropriate county board of elections in this State shall be considered valid and counted if it:

     a.     is from a qualified voter;

     b.    has been transmitted to the appropriate county board of elections no later than the time designated by law for the closing of the polls on that day; and

     c.     is accompanied by the following statement, which shall be certified by the voter's signature: "I understand that by transmitting by electronic means a copy of my voted ballot I am voluntarily waiving my right to a secret ballot. At the same time, I pledge to place the original voted ballot in a secure envelope, together with any other required certification, and send the documents immediately by air mail to the appropriate county board of elections."1

(cf:  P.L.2008, c.61, s.15)

 

     116.  Section 4 of P.L.1995, c.195 (C.19:59-15) is amended to read as follows:

     4. a. Immediately after a copy of [the] an overseas voter’s or overseas federal election voter’s voted [overseas] ballot, or a voted federal write-in absentee ballot, has been transmitted by electronic means to the appropriate county board of elections, as permitted pursuant to section 3 of P.L.1995, c.195 (C.19:59-14), the overseas voter or overseas federal election voter shall place the original voted ballot in a secure envelope, together with a certificate substantially the same as provided for in section 9 of P.L.1976, c.23 (C.19:59-9), and send the documents by air mail to the appropriate county board of elections.

     b.    All copies of voted ballots received by electronic means shall be approved, disapproved, processed and counted, and disputes in connection therewith shall be handled, in the same manner as is applicable to other [absentee] vote by mail ballots. No ballot received after the time designated for the closing of the polls shall be counted.

     c.     The county board of elections shall take all necessary precautions to preserve the security of the ballot materials and specifically shall ensure that the vote cast by a voter using a ballot transmitted by electronic means is not revealed, except to the extent necessary by law or judicial determination. Upon the completion of all inspections of a ballot transmitted by electronic means required by law, the board or any employee thereof acting under its direction shall promptly separate the waiver certification from the ballot transmitted by electronic means. Any person handling such a ballot shall not identify the votes cast by any voter, except upon judicial determination.

     d.    Prior to certification of the results of the election, the county board shall:

     (1)   compare the information on the copy transmitted by electronic means of each voted ballot with the same on the original voted ballot sent by air mail by the voter who transmitted to the county board a copy of the voted ballot by electronic means, and the signature on the statement received by electronic means with the signature on the certificate received by air mail; and

     (2)   ascertain whether an original voted ballot has been received for each copy of a voted ballot received by electronic means and counted.

     Whenever the particulars of the copy of a voted ballot transmitted by electronic means do not conform exactly with the particulars of the original voted ballot sent by air mail to the county board afterwards by that voter and whenever an original voted ballot has not been received which corresponds to a copy of a voted ballot transmitted by electronic means which has been received and counted by the county board, those ballots and all other pertinent documents and information relative to those ballots shall be turned over to the superintendent of elections in counties having a superintendent and the prosecutor in all other counties for further investigation and action.

     e.     Within 30 days after the election, the county board shall gather and keep together the copy of the voted ballot transmitted by electronic means, the certified statement and the original voted ballot sent by air mail of each voter who transmitted a copy of a voted ballot by electronic means. Those ballots needed for an investigation conducted by the superintendent of elections or the county prosecutor, as the case may be, or by any other law enforcement official shall be returned to the county board as soon as practicable after the conclusion of the investigation. All ballots and documents relative to a copy of a voted ballot transmitted by electronic means and received by the county board shall be retained by it for a period of one year following the day of the election. The superintendent of elections in counties having a superintendent and the prosecutor in all other counties shall have the authority to impound all such documents whenever the superintendent or prosecutor shall deem such action necessary.1

(cf:  P.L.2008, c.61, s.16)

 

     1[14.] 17.1 This act shall take effect on the 90th day after the date of enactment.