Both chambers of the legislature approved a bill allowing county election boards to decide where ballot drop boxes are installed Thursday.
The measure allows county election boards to decide by simple majority vote the placement of secure ballot drop boxes in their county. In the case of a tie, the county clerk casts the deciding vote.
It requires each county erect at least 10 ballot drop boxes, with at least one box in each municipality with average per capita or median family incomes at or below 250% of the federal poverty line.
The bill is a bid to prevent drop box clusters seen in some towns in last year’s elections. The rules used for those races required drop boxes be placed at specific sites, including county and municipal government buildings, community colleges and state universities.
In at least one case, that led to three drop boxes being installed within blocks of each other.
“It is not fair for some New Jersey residents to have to trek miles to drop their ballot off while other residents have multiple boxes to choose from within just blocks of each other,” said Assemblyman Bill Moen (D-Camden). “Rather than spending taxpayer money on entirely new boxes, this legislation will permit county boards of elections to better allocate the resources they already have. Allowing them to determine better locations for boxes that are unnecessarily close together will help give more voters equal access to these secure receptacles.”
The measure cleared the Assembly in a 50-21 vote, passing the senate by a margin of 24-12.