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Senator Shirley K. Turner (D-Mercer/Hunterdon) has introduced legislation today to save taxpayers millions of dollars by changing this year’s November General election to coincide with the special election scheduled for October 16; the General election would revert back to November in 2014. Senator Turner also introduced a second bill to eliminate the option of a special election to fill vacancies in either house of Congress and require that individuals who receive temporary appointments to fill such vacancies be of the same political party as the person vacating the position. State law currently allows the governor to hold a special election or appoint an interim to fulfill the full term of the predecessor.
Senator Turner’s legislation comes on the heels of Governor Christie’s decision to hold two special elections to fill the U.S. Senate position left vacant after Senator Lautenberg’s passing. The state’s bi-partisan Office of Legislative Services estimates the total cost of holding two special elections to be about $24 million.
“I have spoken with a number of my colleagues who are very supportive of the bill,” said Senator Turner. “I have also had discussions with Chairman Whelan and requested that he post the bill at the earliest possible meeting of the Senate State Government Committee.”
The New Jersey constitution states that General elections will be held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November; however, the constitution includes an additional phrase that allows the date of the election to be changed by law.
“Moving an election is not unprecedented,” said Senator Turner. “In 2005, we moved the presidential primary election from June to February and then passed legislation in 2011 to move it back to June. The trend is to have fewer elections to save taxpayers money and increase voter participation, not schedule more elections, create more waste, and have fewer people vote. Not only does it cost more to have a special election three weeks before the General election – a total of four elections in four months – it creates more confusion and voter fatigue. People are just too busy working two jobs, in some cases, and taking care of family obligations to carve out the time to vote every month. Scheduling two special elections is a form of voter suppression, especially when October 16 is a Wednesday.”
Senator Shirley K. Turner
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"Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, a Hudson County Democrat, is balking. He claimed Tuesday that members of his caucus are divided over the measure and that his house is in no real rush – besides, even if enacted this year, the reforms would not take effect until 2017, he said. And with the growing belief that Christie could skip town to run for president, some Democrats are not eager to give him another talking point for his résumé. Christie’s plans to stump for Republican candidates in New Hampshire later Thursday only fuel that suspicion." - columnist Charles Stile- The Bergen Record
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