Originally posted on: https://www.employmentlit.com/2022/11/03/new-jersey-employee-voting-rights/
By: Ty Hyderally, Esq., Jennifer Vorih, Esq., and Tom Daly.
With the November 2022 General Election right around the corner, employees in New Jersey should brush up on their knowledge of protections their state provides them with regard to election day and voting activities. New Jersey has voter-friendly laws that make it easy to cast a ballot on election day, but voting day is not a national holiday and employers are not required to give employees time off to vote. If your employer doesn’t provide you with time off from work to vote, they are still subject to certain election laws that protect voter-employees.
Title 19 of the New Jersey Annotated Statutes covers all issues relating to elections held in the state. The laws govern federal, state, and local elections, and provide voters with firm protections. The deadline to register to vote in New Jersey is 21 days before an election, and voters must have been a resident of the county for 30 days before the election. N.J. Stat. § 19:31-6; N.J. Const. Art. II § 1 ¶ 3 (a). The registration deadline for the coming general election was on October 18, 2022.
Last year, New Jersey passed historic legislation to permit early voting. Early voting has risen in popularity across the country. This is largely due to the pandemic and voters’ desire to avoid crowds, and also provides voters a way to cast a ballot without having to take time off from work. The early voting laws, enacted March 30, 2021, set timeframes under which voters can cast a ballot before election day, either in person or by mail. Early voting for primary elections begins 4 days before a non-presidential primary election, and six days before a presidential primary election. N.J.S.A. § 19:15A-1(a)(1)-(2). The early voting period ends two days before the election for both scenarios. Id. For regular elections, like the upcoming general election, the early voting window begins 10 days before election day and ends two days before election day. N.J.S.A. § 19:15A-1(a)(3). For the November general election, voters may begin submitting ballots on October 29, 2022. The early voting period ends on November 6, 2022.
Another alternative is to request an absentee ballot, which can be returned by mail, in person, or to a designated ballot drop off box. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is November 1, 2022. The absentee ballot must be returned in person by 8pm on election day or postmarked by 8pm on election day.
If you or your coworkers are unable to take advantage of New Jersey’s early voting practices, there are still protections in place regarding your right to cast a ballot on election day. While New Jersey does not have a law requiring employers to grant employees paid or unpaid leave to vote, there are laws in place which prohibit employers from improperly influencing or intimidating their employees:
- New Jersey law makes it a crime for an employer to threaten harm to induce an employee to vote or not to vote, or to inflict harm because of either. See N.J.S.A. 19:34-27; N.J.S.A. 18A:14-99; MacDougall v. Weichert, 144 N.J. 380, 422 (1996).
- Any person who intimidates anyone to vote or not to vote or interferes with anyone’s right to vote, or compels anyone to vote or not to vote, is guilty of a crime. See N.J.S.A. 19:34-28 to -30; N.J.S.A. 18A:14-100 to -101.
- Employers are also prohibited from enclosing in their employees’ pay envelopes “threats, expressed or implied, intended … to influence the political opinions or actions of [their] employees.” N.J.S.A. 19:34-30 (applying to elections in general); see also N.J.S.A. 18A:14-102 (applying to school board elections).
New Jersey voters are not required to show identification regularly in order to vote. Voters are only required to show identification their first time voting in a New Jersey election, and if they registered by mail and did not provide proper identification or the information they provided by mail could not be verified.
New Jersey employees have a lot at stake in this, and every election. Given the protections afforded New Jersey voters, we hope that every eligible New Jersey employee has registered to vote and will do so!
- Click here for a list of vote-by-mail applications by county: https://www.state.nj.us/state/elections/vote-by-mail.shtml#applications.
- Click here to find the closest voting location to your address: https://voter.svrs.nj.gov/polling-place-search.
- Click here for a list of ballot drop boxes by county: https://nj.gov/state/elections/vote-secure-drop-boxes.shtml.
- Click here for more voting information: https://nj.gov/state/elections/vote-3-ways-to-vote.shtml.