On March 30th, Governor Murphy signed into law legislation establishing in-person early voting. P.L. 2021, c. 40, which took effect immediately, permits registered voters to vote using machines at select designated polling places before the day of certain primary and general elections in New Jersey. The elections will use electronic polling books and optical scan voting machines that read hand-marked paper ballots or other voting machines that produce voter verifiable paper ballots.
Under the new law the early voting period is as follows:
- Non-presidential primary election starts on the 4th calendar day before the primary and ends on the second calendar day before that non-presidential primary election;
- Presidential primary starts on the 6th calendar day before a primary election and ends on the second calendar day before that presidential primary election;
- General election starts on the 10th calendar day before a general election and ends on the second calendar day before that general election. This also includes non-partisan elections held in November.
- Non-partisan May election early voting is at the discretion of the non-partisan municipality. If the governing body adopts an ordinance permitting early voting it will begin on the 4th calendar day before the election and end on the 2nd calendar day before the election.
The designation of polling locations for the primary and general election is determined by the County Board of Elections. For non-partisan May elections polling locations are determined by the governing body. The County Board of Elections must designate at least three but no more than five public locations except if the number of registered voters in the county is 150,000 to 300,000 then they must designate at least five but no more than 7 public locations, and if the number of registered voters in the county exceeds 300,000 they must designate 7 but no more than 10 public locations. The law does permit the designation of additional early voting locations however, the State will not be responsible for the expense of the additional locations.
All early voting locations must be public facilities, such as county courthouses, public libraries and the offices of the municipal clerk, county clerk, and county board of elections, or places of public accommodation. However, a public school building may not be used as an early voting polling location. The early voting polling locations must be geographically located to ensure both access in the part of county that features the greatest concentration of population and access to various geographic areas of the county.
A registered voter will be permitted to vote at any early voting site within the voter’s county and for non-partisan elections in any location within the voter’s municipality.
Each early voting polling location must be open Monday through Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and on Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Any voter online prior to the close of the polling location must be permitted to vote. The same laws and regulations that apply to an election day polling location will apply to the early voting polling locations.
During each early voting period the County Board of Elections must make available to the public a tally of the total number of votes cast on the previous day, and the list of individual voters who cast a ballot. This information must be made available each day no later than 12 noon. However, any vote cast during early voting cannot be canvassed prior to the close of polls on Election Day.
The law appropriates a total of $2 million in general funds statewide for early voting. The State Treasurer will determine the aid to each county and municipal governing body necessary to effectuate the new law. A county or municipality can submit for reimbursement the cost associated with implementing this new law to the Secretary of State.
The Secretary of State is authorized to make any regulatory adjustments and issue new regulations to effectuate the purposes of this act.
The new law took effect immediately and applies to elections beginning with the 2021 general election, the 2022 primary elections, and if adopted by municipal governing body the May 2022 municipal elections.
Contact: Lori Buckelew, Assistant Executive Director, email@example.com, 609-695-3481, x112.