(TRENTON) – Currently, any citizen of the United States who is overseas with uncertain intent to return to America is permitted to vote in federal elections in New Jersey via overseas ballot. Assembly Democrats Joann Downey (D-Monmouth) and Gabriela Mosquera (D-Camden, Gloucester) sponsored legislation approved by the full Assembly on Thursday 49-25-1 that would change the definition of “overseas voter”.
Under the bill (A-5306), the term “overseas voter” would now apply to any citizen of the United States who was born outside of the country and meets voter eligibility requirements. A citizen would be allowed to vote in federal elections if they have a parent, legal guardian, spouse, partner in a civil union, or domestic partner eligible to register and vote in the U.S. before departure.
“We want to guarantee that all citizens of the United States who are eligible to vote can do so in our federal elections,” said Downey. “Those who are not currently living in our country, but are citizens deserve to be heard in our elections because their lives are impacted even if they are not living in New Jersey on Election Day.”
The bill would also remove temporary residence abroad from the definition of “overseas voter”. This would allow any person who meets the criteria and is only overseas temporarily to vote by mail-in ballot in their previous election district and they would be able to vote in any federal or state elections.
“People who do not live in the United States due to work or other short-term reasons are still important to the identity of our country and State,” said Mosquera. “They should have a vote in the communities to which they may return.”
The measure now heads to the Senate.