Zwicker “Voting Precinct Transparency Act” Clears Committee

In an effort to maintain a fair election process in New Jersey, legislation promoting voting transparency sponsored by Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker was advanced by the Assembly State and Local Government Committee on Thursday. 

The "Voting Precinct Transparency Act," (A-4564) requires the filing of election district, county district and municipal ward boundary data with the Secretary of State for posting and downloading online.

The bill also requires the Secretary to post a table or database containing the election results per election district in a format that matches the election districts boundary data. 

"Some states do a great job of providing precinct-level election results, others do a great job of providing precinct geographies," said Zwicker (D-Somerset/Mercer/Middlesex/Hunterdon). "However, most states don't compile either, and the few who do, don't do so in a way that is well-standardized. Currently, New Jersey is one of these states that doesn't compile and release them all. This bill would change that and indeed, would make New Jersey a leader in transparency about election data."

Currently, all municipalities in New Jersey are divided into election districts for the purposes of election administration and voting. Essex, Atlantic and Hudson counties are divided into county districts from which voters elect some or all of the members of the county governing body. Sixty-four municipalities in New Jersey have established municipal wards from which voters elect some or all of the members of their respective municipal governing bodies. 

Under the bill, The Secretary of State must make this data available on the official website of the Division of Elections for the public to download free of charge. 

It is important to have high-quality data indicating the boundaries of precincts. According to the sponsor, other benefits would include: 

· establishing a precedent of releasing high quality, usable data for use by all New Jerseyans;

· possibly making election administration and ballot assignment easier; and

· making it easier for municipalities and counties to comply with federal mandates such as the Voting Rights Act.