Changes in no-excuse absentee coming in NJ?

The “Vote by Mail” act in New Jersey is sitting on Gov. John Corzine’s desk awaiting his signature.  We will find out in the next few days whether he signs it or not.

The two main provisions in the bill are:

  1. It would allow permanent no-excuse absentee balloting (prior research shows that this will increase the number of absentee ballots in NJ and probably increase turnout in non-Federal elections)
  2. Limits the number of “messenger” ballots to 10

This last provision requires some explanation.  Under current law, individuals (“messengers”) can carry absentee ballots from the voters to the drop off location.  The current proposal will not outlaw “messengers” but limit the messenger to 10 ballots.  Messenger ballots were a focus of fraud charges in a recent Atlantic City mayoral contest.

(This may seem a controversial provision, but Oregon was unable to tighten its law, either.  A few years ago, anyone could carry a vote by mail ballot for a voter as a convenience.  Oregon tightened the law so that only candidate and political organizations could do this–oddly enough just the very groups that you’d be worried about!)