Veto of N.J. early-voting bill likely to hold
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's veto of an early-voting bill will likely stand because Republicans in the state Senate and Assembly don't support it. The governor exercised the veto Thursday.
The legislation would have permitted voters to cast ballots at polling places for two weeks before Election Day.
In his veto message, Christie said New Jersey residents can already vote before elections.
"This early voting method, known as 'Vote by Mail,' conveniently and securely allows voters to request, obtain and cast a 'mail-in ballot' by mail or in person beginning 45 days before the primary and general election," Christie said. "Taxpayers should not have to foot a more than $25 million bill to pay for a hasty, counterproductive and less reliable system."
The nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services estimated that the new system would cost $23 million in the first year, and $2 million annually thereafter.
Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex), one of the bill's sponsors, said early voting in New Jersey is now inconvenient.
"You have to go to one location: the county clerk's office or the board of elections," he said. "Some of our lower-wage earners who are traveling by public transportation to and from jobs may not have that opportunity to go to a New Brunswick or to a downtown."
Sen. Barbara Buono (D-Middlesex), who is likely challenging Christie in this year's gubernatorial race, said the legislation is worth the price.
"Expanding early voting will only cost $2 million per year after it's started," she said. "We've got a governor who wants to give massive tax cuts to the wealthiest in our state, but he's unwilling to carve out $2 million a year to expand voting rights? I just think it's appalling."
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, early, in-person voting is permitted in 32 states. The bipartisan group does not count New Jersey among them.