No Early Voting in New Jersey

Governor Christie yesterday vetoed a bill that would have allowed early voting in New Jersey.  After reading the following, comment on whether or not New Jersey should have adopted this measure.  Do the benefits outweigh the costs (both real and potential)?

Christie vetoes early voting bill, angering Democrats

Jenna Portnoy/The Star-Ledger By Jenna Portnoy/The Star-Ledger

on May 09, 2013 at 3:35 PM, updated May 10, 2013 at 7:16 AM

TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie today vetoed a bill that would allow early voting at polling places, prompting Democrats to brand it a politically motivated effort to suppress the vote months after Hurricane Sandy exposed vulnerabilities in the state elections system.

The Republican governor called a proposal to let voters cast ballots at designated polling places during a 15-day period before Election Day “hasty, counterproductive and less reliable” than the current system.

“I support responsible and cost-efficient election reform that increases voter participation because democracy works best when the most people vote,” Christie said in the veto message. “But this bill risks the integrity and orderly administration of our elections by introducing a new voting method and process.”

Christie’s veto bucks a national trend. Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia had instituted some form of in-person early voting as of September 2012, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. That does not include New Jersey, which allows absentee voting without having to provide an excuse.

State Sen. Nia Gill (D-Essex), a primary sponsor of the bill (S2364), said Christie’s veto shows he is out of step with most states.

“The governor now joins other Republican governors who have sought to stifle the vote and limit access to the polls,” she said. “Once again he is catering to his national base at the expense of New Jersey residents.”

Currently, voters can cast a “mail-in-ballot” by mailing or hand-delivering a competed ballot to their county clerk starting 45 days before the election.

Christie said the expanded early voting system envisioned by the Legislature would create a side-by-side voting process, noting it would cost the state $23 million in the first year and $2 million each year after that. He also questioned the security of transporting paper ballots around the state during the early voting period and the call for a quick setup before July 1.

Christie, who is seeking re-election, raised the ire of unions and the Democratic Governors Association, who are backing his likely opponent, state Sen. Barbara Buono (D-Middlesex).

“The governor’s veto shamefully silences the voices of an untold number of New Jersey families,” New Jersey AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech said. The Democratic Governors Association immediately issued a statement likening Christie to what it called “shameless Republican governors restricting voting rights for partisan political gain,” citing Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett and others.

“Governor Christie’s veto is yet another example of Republican politicians taking the cynical view that making voting more difficult will win them more elections,” Buono said.

Hurricane Sandy damaged polling places and severely limited residents’ ability to get around the state days before the November presidential election. In response, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno issued a last-minute patchwork of directives intended to help people vote, including letting residents request and return mail-in ballots by fax and e-mail.

Christie said those measures worked well and the election went smoothly, pointing to the nearly 300,000 mail-in ballots cast. Voting rights advocates maintain that many residents were disenfranchised.

About 67 percent of New Jersey voters cast their ballots last year. For at least a century, New Jersey had never gone below 70 percent voter turnout in a presidential election year.


14 responses to “No Early Voting in New Jersey”

  1. Kunaal7 says :

    I feel Governor Christie was right vetoing the early voting bill. The vetoed legislation required polling places to be opened fifteen days before the Election Day in addition to the current mail-in-ballot process. Opening polling place weeks before the election can bring huge voter manipulation. Moreover, New Jersey does have a mail-in-ballot voting for those who want to vote early and therefore we should not be spending $23 millions in the first year and $2 millions in subsequent years for the vetoed legislation. If we are looking for voters ease then we should employ secured digitized voting system without losing the integrity of voter’s identity so that voters can vote from anywhere.

  2. natek7 says :

    I agree with Kunaal. Governor Christie made the right choice in vetoing this bill. Voting participation is an issue but this proposal of having the polling places open 15 days before Election Day does not seem like the right solution. Opening the polls 15 days early may not even help the few voters that can’t vote on Election day or mail in their ballots. Additionally spending $23 million seems like a misuse of money when in could be spent on other issues such as recovery efforts for Hurricane Sandy.

  3. AkhilP7 says :

    A smart decision of Christie’s part. Sure, the additional spending may only be .01% increase on the current budget. But $23 million can be better used. If people want to vote early, use the mail-in system. Democrats need to stop crying about how it suppresses the minority vote. If the minority vote wanted to be heard so badly, they’d figure out how to vote.

  4. bump7 says :

    I agree with Nate that the $23 million could be used in better ways, i.e. relief from Hurricane Sandy. However I like the idea of having the polls open before election day because it allows voters more time to cast their ballots. Mail-in- ballots can tend to get confusing,and opening the polls earlier allows for an increase in voter turnout. I feel that 15 days prior to the election may be a little too much but 3-5 days could be beneficially especially to people who struggle to get the free time to go to the polls.

  5. Connor1 says :

    I think what is going on here is that Christie’s challenger is doing whatever she can to put Christie in a bad light before the time of the election due to the fact that he is the clear favorite, and she is going to take advantage of any opportunity to tamper with Christie’s stellar reputation as our governor. Christie doesn’t have to do much to gain the majority vote in New Jersey, which is why the claim that he is vetoing the bill to restrict democratic voters is unethical. Christie is clearly attempting to increase voter turnouts through his mail in system, but he doesn’t make the people vote, that is on them. Christie made the right decision for turning down the use of all of those millions of dollars that the bill would require, because he is smart enough to know that there are much better ways to utilize that money, which is why it is ridiculous for him to be ridiculed for vetoing the bill.

  6. Tanya4 says :

    This is obviously an attempt by Christie to silence the population that needs early voting to participate in an election (that tend to lean liberally in NJ). Although early voting would be expensive as all my class mates have pointed out above, our priority in a democracy should be to increase voter population. Early Voting is the only way many people can vote and Christie is effectively denying and silencing many New Jersey residents. Christie should follow the lead of the majority of the other states and fund early voting in the state of NJ. It is unjust to take away this voting opportunity.

  7. Emily1 says :

    I believe that though it may not seem like it, Governor Christie’s decision is logical.You can already mail in a vote without an excuse to do so. Spending more money to give people the same right on different terms is a waste of time and money. I don’t believe this is trying to silence the people or prevent them from voting early: there is no way to predict events like Hurricane Sandy and signing this bill in is not an absolute solution to this problem. The money can be used in other ways to help the state.

  8. Paul1 says :

    I think the important part of Governor Christie’s argument is that there is already a form of early voting in place. If there were no such system, then his veto of the early voting bill would have much more of a partisan ring, as those who are less affluent–and therefore less likely to have access to polls on election day–tend to vote more Democratic, which would mean that the veto could be meant to silence opposition voters. However, New Jersey does have the early voting mail-in ballot system, which means that the Governor’s veto can be construed to fall more under budgetary concerns than anything else. Unless there is a reasonably demonstrated flaw with the current early voting system, there doesn’t seem to be a pressing need to spend the money to change it, according to this article.

  9. mattgiannottione says :

    “The governor’s veto shamefully silences the voices of an untold number of New Jersey families,” New Jersey AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech said.
    This makes it sound that Chris Christie has vetoed all voting in the state of New Jersey. The 23 million it takes to carry out this system of early voting is a waste of money, for voters can already cast in absentee ballots without an excuse. I think the Democrats are trying to weaponize this simple veto of Christie’s because they want the lower classes, the largest demographic affected by this veto on early voting, of New Jersey to stand against him next election season. The Democrats should interest their minority voters in absentee ballots if they feel that there is a disadvantage.

  10. Langston4 says :

    I agree most of my classmates in the idea that spending 23 million dollars for voting could be used somewhere else. However, I do not believe that Christie vetoing the early vote was a good idea. The goal of this early voting bill was to increase voter turnout in New Jersey. By vetoing this bill, he has only made himself appear as if he is using this for some sort of political gain. This certainly does not look good on Governor Christie’s part.

  11. Chad4 says :

    I agree with Governor Christie. I don’t see why the state should give citizens the opportunity to participate in early voting if they are already able to fill out an absentee ballot without an excuse. I also think the state of New Jersey should use the money that would spent on this project to further their efforts to restore the Jersey shore and others areas affected by Hurricane Sandy.

  12. thetuck1 says :

    I think this article is quite an unfair portrayal of governor Christie. We need to keep in mind that the current system allows for all citizens (of age) to vote, and it is a bit ridiculous to suggest that Christie is silencing and disenfranchising New Jerseyans by vetoing this bill. Certainly, there are flaws in America’s current system of voting; this is apparent from the low voter turnout America receives election after election. With that said, the vetoing of this bill clearly does not represent an effort to silence or inhibit the people of New Jersey. In fact, I believe that it is a smart move. As previous commenters have pointed out, having the polls open for fifteen days before election day will open up the opportunity for vote manipulation and corruption. I think that the cost of such an implementation would outweigh the benefits.

  13. iqra07 says :

    Although opening the polls early would be very expensive, I think that the money is worth spending. While there are other ways to vote early in New Jersey, clearly they are not proving their purpose because this year’s voter turnout was the lowest in at least a century. Registering to vote is difficult enough and mailing in a vote just makes the process a lot more complicated. Without early voting, a significant number of people in New Jersey will not be able to vote.

  14. Jen1 says :

    The piece does seem biased (shock). I think New Jeresy does not need to adopt the bill, therefore Christie made the right decision. I honestly do not understand the problem with the “mail-in” if someone wanted to vote early. There’s obviously success in the system. Also, I agree with everyone else that the money could be used in other places more useful to the state. However, I do understand where Democrats are coming from. It definately could seem like Christie is influencing the vote BUT, like what Paul said, there’s already a prior form of early voting. So, I think it’s acceptable.

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