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Legislative Advocacy

Posted on: July 21, 2023

Governor Signs General Election Bills

On Thursday, despite the League’s urging to conditionally veto this measure, Governor Murphy signed A-5175/SCS-3519, which makes changes to General Election timelines. 

The League opposed this legislation for one specific reason. Most of the provisions in this bill address issues that arise with the new early voting process, which the League generally supports. However, Sections 19 and 20 of the new law move the reorganization date for November non-partisan elections from January 1 (or later that week as designated by local ordinance) to January 15 (or later as designated by local ordinance) which will lead to unintended consequences for impacted municipalities, regardless of whether there is a local runoff provision or not. It creates a circumstance where a previously elected government body may make decisions that the newly elected body would have to abide by or overturn. 

The deadline changes that affect municipalities include:

  • Moving the date for a candidate to accept the nomination from 70 days to 81 days prior to the general election.
  • In the event of a vacancy, moving the date for new petition submittals from 64 days to 75 days before the day of that election.
  • When a vacancy occurs after a candidate has been nominated in the primary election for the general election, the date moves from 56 days to 70 days before the general election. or in the event of inability to select a candidate because of a tie vote at such primary, a candidate shall be selected by the political county committees, depending on which office. The date a selection made by the political county committee changes from 54 days to 68 days.
  • Moving the date, the county clerk must have ballots ready for the printer to 45 days before an election and moves the printer deadline for federal primary and general elections from 50 days to 64 days prior.
  • Moving the date, the board of county canvassers meets after an election from 13 days to 15 days.
  • Moving the time, a candidate has to apply to a judge for a recount from 17 days to 3 days following certification.
  • Moving the date of filing county or municipal ballot questions with the county clerk from not later than 81 days to 88 days.
  • Moving the date, a municipal ballot question must be submitted to the county clerk by citizen petition from 67 days to 74 days. It also moves the deadline for inclusion on the sample ballot from 67 days to 74 days.
  • Changing the date that a district election officer has to keep the voting machines locked from 15 days to 13 days.
  • Moving when boards of education of a type II district may call a special election from the Third Tuesday in September to the last Tuesday in September and expanding the authority of the Commissioner of Education to change authorized special school elections if they fall within 45 days of the general election.
  • Moving the date, a school board candidate can withdraw from 70 days prior to an election to 81 days to avoid having their name on the ballot.
  • Moving from 64 days to 75 days that candidates for all elective offices have to file with the municipal clerk prior to a regular municipal election.
  • Moving the reorganization date from January 1 to January 15 for municipalities that hold non-partisan elections in November.
  • Prohibiting fire district elections from being held prior to 45 days prior to the primary or general election.

Contact: Paul Penna, Senior Legislative Analyst, ppenna@njlm.org, 609-695-3481, x110.

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