You no longer have to be an absentee voter to vote-by-mail in New Jersey. According to a new state law that passed in the spring, voters absent and present can choose to exercise their voting prowess by darkening circles and filling blanks in the comfort of home.
What about fraud?
Someone somewhere had to think about all of the fraud scenarios that can arise by allowing remote voting. To address the concerns, signatures from the ballot are set against voter applications to authenticate voter identity. And there are specific restrictions on how ballots can be transported, something that was an issue when absentee was the only mailing option.
Candidates acquiesce that the New Jersey state law will be a game-changer for the way in which they conduct campaigns. Though ads usually get heated close to election date, the early vote-by-mail option means that by the time "E" day rolls around, many voters would already have signed, sealed, and mailed the deal. But for candidates it can also hold the promise of more votes...whether voters have difficulty reaching a polling location or are too busy to take time out on election day, vote-by-mail gives a unique option to fulfill the civic duty to vote.
Westerly winds move east
New Jersey is taking a bold move in switching on the vote-by-mail option. But it can look to the West to see how it has worked. Oregon is the only state in which 100% of votes are entered by mail. And Washington state is not far behind, having only one county to still have physical polling locations.
- N.J. touts new "vote-by-mail" law (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
- Vote by Mail (fairvote.org)
- State-by-State Time Off to Vote Laws (FindLaw)
- Justices Don't Look Kindly on Disputed Provision of Voting Rights Act (FindLaw's Courtside)