Monmouth County Clerk Christine Giordano Hanlon said this reform and others are the result of a new law signed by Gov. Chris Christie on Aug.10.
“The new law impacts New Jersey voters who, by necessity or by choice, have another individual submit a Vote By Mail request and/or election ballot on their behalf,” Hanlon said.
The new law reduces number of voters for whom a person can serve as “messenger” from 10 to three.
It also limits the number of voted mail-in ballots transmittable by a “bearer” to the County Board of Elections to three ballots.
The law specifically states that “no person shall serve as an authorized messenger or as a “bearer” for more than three qualified voters in an election. The prior law permitted a person to serve as an authorized “messenger” for up to 10 qualified voters in an election, and set no limit on the number of voted ballots a “bearer” may collect.
Absentee ballots became an issue in the last two Asbury Park City Council elections. And following the last election in November 2014 a lawsuit was filed by members of the A Team, which lost the election, challenging the winners which included Mayor John Moor and his ticket. The lawsuit centered around the vote by mail or absentee ballots and whether they were properly gathered and submitted. The A Team maintained many of the absentee ballots should not have been thrown out.The court upheld the county’s ruling on the ballots and allowed that ruling to stand.
When contacted this week about the new legislation Moor said he was pleased to hear about the new law.
“It’s about time,” he said. “This is a problem that has needed to be addressed for quite a while. This issue effected myself and others in the Asbury Park elections in 2013 and 2014, requiring me to appear pro se for nine days in court in 2015. It certainly was not a problem unique to Asbury Park. It is a problem statewide, which is quite obvious when both sides of the aisle in the Assembly and the Senate pass it unanimously.”
The bill also now requires a person serving as a bearer delivering a voted mail-in ballot to the County Board of Elections, to provide proof of his or her identity in the form of a New Jersey driver’s license, or another form of identification issued or recognized as official by the federal government, the State, or any of its subdivisions, providing the identification carries the full address and signature of the person.
“This new law is critical to preventing manipulation of the voting process,” Hanlon said. “And it will reduce the opportunity for fraud and abuse of the system. I congratulate the legislature and the Governor for acknowledging the need to protect the integrity of the process.”
“In Monmouth County, we typically have a significant number of messengers and bearers in our elections and it is important for our voters to be aware of these new laws.” Hanlon continued, “The statute provides that the change will take effect immediately, meaning that this change will impact the 2015 school and the November general elections.
Voters who individually receive and transmit their Mail-In Ballots through the U.S. Postal Service are not impacted by this new law.