Gov. Phil Murphy took less than a day to sign into law a package of mail-in voting changes enacted by the Legislature last week, but at least one lawmaker wants to go a step further with early voting – in-person, on machines, for two weeks.

Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce, R-Morris, said early voting on machines would make people feel comfortable and could be offered along with vote-by-mail and ballot drop boxes.

“They could do that, too. But for the people that are questioning the way of just mail-in voting, it gave them a choice. You know, it’s our democracy that we’re taking about,” said DeCroce, who was the municipal clerk in Roxbury Township for 21 years.

A bill winding through the Legislature would create early voting at some polling places two weeks before Election Day – but not take effect until 2021. DeCroce said there’s still time to have a version in place this year, through an election that would begin in just seven weeks, on Oct. 19.

“I really didn’t see any reason why we couldn’t do early voting,” DeCroce said. “And in my bill, it calls for regular election machines to be used. Those machines are sitting in warehouses ready to be used.”

DeCroce said voting machines should be put in town halls for the early voting and be overseen by municipal clerks. To replace poll workers, clerk’s office employees could be used.

“They then have people that are on salary all day long in town hall that could be certified to help run the machines within town hall during regular business hours,” DeCroce said.

The state has directed all voters to be sent mail-in ballots and said, as a result, election-day voters must vote on provisional paper ballots so records can be checked to ensure they don’t vote twice.

DeCroce said that’s not sufficient. The state has a Voters’ Bill of Rights that says voters have the right to vote in private on a voting machine if their complete voter registration information is in the poll book and they lived in the election district on the day of the registration deadline.

“This is about what the people want, not what I want or any other legislator or the governor. It’s the people’s right. And if they want to vote by a machine, they should be given that right,” DeCroce said. “Even if not one person goes to that machine that was made available, it’s the people’s right to have it there for their choice.”

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