Muoio, Zwicker, Gusciora & Benson Introduce Bill to Boost Confidence in Election Results by Requiring Paper Voting Trail

 

Assembly Democrats Elizabeth Maher Muoio, Andrew Zwicker, Reed Gusciora and Daniel Benson have introduced legislation to protect the integrity of elections by requiring a paper trail for all voting machines in New Jersey.

The bill (A-4619) would require that new voting machines purchased or leased following the bill's effective date must produce a paper record of each vote cast.

"The more dependent our society becomes on technology, the more we realize that it's not always fail-proof. Given the tumultuous election we just went through, it's more pressing than ever that we make sure voters have faith in our democratic system," said Muoio (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). "Paper voting records will create an auditable trail to help ensure the integrity of our elections and provide voters with peace of mind."

"In the past, equipment failures and programming errors have resulted in costly disputes that cast doubt on election results and undermine our democratic process," said Zwicker (D-Somerset/Mercer/Middlesex/ Hunterdon). "Paper ballot verification can help prevent all that and assure voters that their ballots will be counted properly." 

"Truly democratic elections require independent verification of results," said Gusciora (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). "In these tenuous times, our democracy must be able to rely on indisputable results. A paper trail will allow both voters and independent auditors to examine the results." 

"Without a paper record there is really no way to independently audit election results," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "Paper records will ensure that ballot choices have been recorded as intended to the satisfaction of the voter and for the benefit of our democracy."

Under current law, the requirement for the purchase of new voting machines or retrofitting of existing voting machines to produce a paper record of the votes cast has been suspended until funding is made available from state or federal sources. 

Therefore, the bill stipulates that each voting machine that is purchased or leased following the bill's effective date would be required to produce an individual permanent paper record for each vote cast, which must be made available for inspection and verification by the voter at the time the vote is cast, and preserved for later use in any manual audit. 

In the event of a recount of the results of an election, the voter-verified paper record of each purchased or leased machine would be used in the calculation of the official tally in that election.

The bill also deletes a provision in current law that allows the Secretary of State to grant a waiver from the requirement to purchase new voting machines or retrofit all existing voting machines if the technology to produce a permanent voter-verified paper record for each vote cast is not commercially available. This change is intended to reflect that the technology is now commercially available.

This bill is prospective in application, and would apply to voting machines purchased or leased following its effective date. The bill would take effect on the next January 1st following its enactment.

The measure has been referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

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