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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Recalls could get easier

Be advised, corrupt or otherwise hated New Jersey politicians. It could soon get easier for the New Jersey voters to recall their elected officials.

Legislation introduced recently in the New Jersey State Assembly would more than halve the amount of voter signatures needed to begin the process of recalling an elected official in the Garden State.

It would amend the New Jersey Constitution to reduce the percentage of a municipality’s voters and their signatures needed to initiate a recall from the current 25 percent to a much-reduced 12 percent, of the total of those who cast ballots in the most recent election.

Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande introduced the bill last week, citing reduced voter turnout as one of the major driving forces behind the measure.

“Considering that voter turnout for elections, whether they be local, county state, or even federal, has been at record low numbers, it seems rather outrageous to have a law making it nearly impossible to recall an election official…” said Ms. Casagrande, R-Monmouth and Mercer.

Last November’s legislative election saw a turnout of around 30 percent across the state, while in New Jersey’s capital only about 7,700 votes were cast out of a total registered voter pool of around 36,000.

“Government has been instituted for the protection, security, and benefit of the people and they should have, at all times, the right, the power and the opportunity to alter that government when the public good requires it,” Ms. Casagrande said.

Trenton’s low turnout already means that residents wishing to put an ordinance on the books need only around 770 signatures to force a special referendum, and around 1,100 to force an election to pull an existing law off the books.

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