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Progressive States Network Lauds NJ Governor and Legislative Sponsors for for passing innovative permanent absentee voting law

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 1, 2009
CONTACT: Austin Guest, aguest@progressivestates.org, 212-680-3116 x 110

PROGRESSIVE STATE NETWORK LAUDS NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR AND LEGISLATIVE SPONSORS FOR PASSING INNOVATIVE PERMANENT ABSENTEE VOTING LAW

Yesterday, Governor Corzine signed A 2451, the Vote by Mail Law of 2008, bringing New Jersey's absentee voting procedures decisively into the 21st Century. The law, sponsored by Senator Raymond Lesniak and Assemblywoman Joan Quigley, replaces New Jersey's multiple absentee voting systems with one streamlined system for use by all voters. In addition the law now gives voters the option of permanently voting by mail, as is available in Colorado, California, Montana and Washington. Under this option voters could apply once to receive either a ballot in every election for the next year or receive ballots indefinitely for all general elections.

“While reforms like permanent absentee voting have been taking hold in western states for some time, New Jersey is leading the northeast with this key reform,” said Nathan Newman, Executive Director at the Progressive States Network, adding that “Besides Maine, no other Northeastern state allows voters to choose an absentee ballot without a special reason, so moving to permanent absentee voting brings New Jersey miles ahead of its neighbors.”

The states that already offer the permanent absentee option have seen its use rise quickly. This year Colorado held its first presidential election with permanent absentee, and both voters and elected officials gave the program strong support. The result was that almost half of all voters requested a mail-in ballot, constituting over three-quarters of all early voters. Permanent absentee is similarly popular in California; and Oregon and Washington came to their current all-mail elections after voters' positive experiences with permanent absentee.

The bill should also be a great help to election officials who will have to process fewer absentee ballot requests as many absentee voters choose the permanent absentee option.

“Voting in New Jersey just got significantly easier for lots of folks, including public safety workers, night shift workers, the elderly and others. We sincerely hope that other northeastern states will follow New Jersey's lead in expanding access to voting for their residents through the most popular form of early voting — permanent absentee voting,” concluded Mr. Newman.

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Progressive States Network is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the work of progressive state legislators around the country and to the passage of state legislation that delivers on issues the issues that matter to working families: strong wage standards and workplace freedom, balancing work and family responsibilities, health care for all, smart growth and clean energy, tax and budget reform, clean and fair elections, and technology investments to bridge the digital divide.