TRENTON, N.J. – Assembly Democrats will face the voters this November, but they don’t trust their coalition to show up at the polls. They’re racing to reverse a decision by Governor Phil Murphy’s Division of Elections requiring voters who requested general election ballots in 2017 and 2018 to reapply for them.
Senate Democrats passed a “fix” bill (S-4069) on Monday morning, 22-10. The Assembly plans to vote on Tuesday.
Democrats crow about how the law boosts voter participation. Republicans counter that it also increases voter fraud.
“The vote-by-mail expansion that we were here to fix was flawed for more reasons than those recently identified by the Secretary of State,” said State Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-26) who opposed the Senate bill. “Voter fraud is very real in New Jersey, and much of that fraud centers on ballots not cast in a polling place. This legislation does nothing to prevent illegal aliens from voting or to stop campaign operatives from illegally registering people, collecting ballots, and rigging elections.”
It’s not a hypothetical concern. Recently, a pay for mail-in ballots scheme was uncovered by the U.S. Attorney in Hoboken.
Democrats tabled a Pennacchio sponsored amendment to make certain voter fraud-related crimes second degree offenses.
“Since the vote-by-mail expansion was enacted, we’ve seen a number of cases of voter fraud move through our state’s judicial system,” added Pennacchio. “It’s clear that current penalties are not an effective deterrent. We need to make the crime of subverting our elections serious enough that nobody will want to risk the penalties for breaking the law. It’s inexplicable that the Democratic majority would block an effort to protect the integrity of elections in New Jersey. Until we act to secure our elections, we’ll continue to be at increased risk of voter fraud.”
There are several districts – LD1, LD2, LD8, LD11, LD21, LD25 and LD38 – where Democrats hope their vote-by-mail canvassing efforts in 2017 and 2018 will make the difference and give them an extra edge in 2019.