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Laws governing local ballot measures in New Jersey

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Laws Governing Local Ballot Measures

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New Jersey Constitution
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Preamble
Articles
IIIIIIIVVVIVIIVIIIIXXXI
165 New Jersey municipalities and 6 counties have an initiative and referendum process for local ballot measures.

This article sets out the laws governing local ballot measures in New Jersey. It explains:

  • Which local units of government make the initiative process available to residents.
  • How and whether local units of government, including school districts, can refer local ballot measures (such as school bond propositions) to the ballot.
  • An overview of laws governing local recall elections.

Types of local government

Local government in New Jersey consists of:

  • Counties, of which there are 21
  • Municipalities, of which there are 566. Municipalities are classified under state law as either: Township, Borough, City, Town, or Village
  • In addition, there are 234 special districts and 523 independent school districts.[1]

"In New Jersey, borough, city, town, village, and township governments have similar powers and perform similar functions. All areas of the state are encompassed by township governments except areas within the boundaries of a borough, city, town, or village."[2]

The U.S. Census Bureau's 2012 study of local governments[1] shows that, as of September of 2012, New Jersey had:

  • 21 county governments.
  • 242 township governments.
  • 324 other municipal governments (boroughs, cities, towns, and villages).

Further classifications:

Counties: 6 of the 21 counties operate under the Optional County Charter Law (Atlantic, Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Mercer and Union)

Municipalities:

Each of the five types of municipalities may operate under the unique form of government historically associated with it, or under one of the following optional forms of government provided by state statute:

  • Commission, of which there are 32
  • Council Manager Act of 1923, of which there are 7
  • Optional Municipal Charter Law, of which there are 129
  • or a Special Charter granted by the state legislature, of which there are 11.[3] [4]

School districts

See also: School bond and tax elections in New Jersey
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School bond and tax elections in New Jersey are held under three different circumstances:
  • To approve a school district's annual budget which is mandated for all districts.
  • To issue bonds for new construction and capital improvements.
  • If a school district has an excess levy.

Local recall rules

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The citizens of New Jersey are granted the authority to perform a recall election by Section 2(b) of Article I of the New Jersey Constitution, which was enacted in 1993.

The recall amendment applies to all elective officers after the first year of the term for which the incumbent was elected. The New Jersey Recall Amendment specifically authorizes the recall of members of New Jersey's U.S. Congressional delegation.

See also: Section 2(b) of Article I of the New Jersey Constitution

The section of the New Jersey Constitution that authorizes recall says:

"The people reserve unto themselves the power to recall, after at least one year of service, any elected official in this State or representing this State in the United States Congress. The Legislature shall enact laws to provide for such recall elections. Any such laws shall include a provision that a recall election shall be held upon petition of at least 25% of the registered voters in the electoral district of the official sought to be recalled. If legislation to implement this constitutional amendment is not enacted within one year of the adoption of the amendment, the Secretary of State shall, by regulation, implement the constitutional amendment, except that regulations adopted by the Secretary of State shall be superseded by any subsequent legislation consistent with this constitutional amendment governing recall elections. The sufficiency of any statement of reasons or grounds procedurally required shall be a political rather than a judicial question."
For additional detail, see: Laws governing recall in New Jersey

Initiative process availability

The local units of government in New Jersey that make the initiative process available are:

  • Counties operating under the optional county charter law have state specified initiative and referendum. There are 6 such counties (Atlantic, Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Mercer and Union).
  • Municipalities operating under the optional municipal charter law (129) or commission form of government (32) have state specified initiative and referendum procedures. A list of these 161 municipalities is provided below in the external links, "Initiative and Referendum in New Jersey’s Counties and Municipalities".
  • 3 of the 11 municipalities with special act charters provide for local initiative and referendum in the charter (Middletown Township, Montville Township, and Plainfield City). These charters were special acts of the legislature.
  • In addition, Tenafly Borough, which generally operates under the borough form of government, has provided its voters with the powers of initiative and referendum pursuant to a local law specifically enacted to provide those powers.[3] [5]

Authority

Ballot Law Portal
Laws Governing Ballot Measures

Constitution

Article IV, Sections VII, Paragraph 10 grants municipal governing bodies the power to petition the legislature for special act charters. The charter may be constructed to include initiative and referendum. Other than this section regarding special act charters, the New Jersey Constitution makes no references to local initiative and referendum.

Statutes

Cities operating under the optional municipal charter law have mandated initiative and referendum through N.J.S.A. 40:69A-1 and the following articles.

Cities with a commission form of government have mandated initiative and referendum through N.J.S.A. 40:70-1 and the following articles.

Counties operating under the “Optional County Charter Law,” have mandated initiative and referendum through N.J.S.A. 40:41A-1 and the following articles.[6]

Initiative process features for cities operating under the "Optional Municipal Charter Law"

A guide to local ballot initiatives
Local Ballot Initiatives cover.jpg

For details on process features see New Jersey Statutes 40:69A-184 and the following articles.[7]


Initiative process features for cities with a commission form of government

For details on process features see New Jersey Statutes 40:74-5 and the following articles.[8]


Initiative process in the top 10 most populated cities

Local I&R Laws in the 50 States
Laws governing local ballot measures in WashingtonLaws governing local ballot measures in OregonLaws governing local ballot measures in CaliforniaLaws governing local ballot measures in NevadaLaws governing local ballot measures in ArizonaLaws governing local ballot measures in AlaskaLaws governing local ballot measures in HawaiiLaws governing local ballot measures in UtahLaws governing local ballot measures in IdahoLaws governing local ballot measures in MontanaLaws governing local ballot measures in WyomingLaws governing local ballot measures in ColoradoLaws governing local ballot measures in New MexicoLaws governing local ballot measures in TexasLaws governing local ballot measures in OklahomaLaws governing local ballot measures in KansasLaws governing local ballot measures in NebraskaLaws governing local ballot measures in South DakotaLaws governing local ballot measures in North DakotaLaws governing local ballot measures in MinnesotaLaws governing local ballot measures in IowaLaws governing local ballot measures in MissouriLaws governing local ballot measures in ArkansasLaws governing local ballot measures in LouisianaLaws governing local ballot measures in MississippiLaws governing local ballot measures in TennesseeLaws governing local ballot measures in AlabamaLaws governing local ballot measures in FloridaLaws governing local ballot measures in GeorgiaLaws governing local ballot measures in South CarolinaLaws governing local ballot measures in North CarolinaLaws governing local ballot measures in KentuckyLaws governing local ballot measures in VirginiaLaws governing local ballot measures in West VirginiaLaws governing local ballot measures in WisconsinLaws governing local ballot measures in IllinoisLaws governing local ballot measures in IndianaLaws governing local ballot measures in MichiganLaws governing local ballot measures in MichiganLaws governing local ballot measures in OhioLaws governing local ballot measures in PennsylvaniaLaws governing local ballot measures in MarylandLaws governing local ballot measures in MarylandLaws governing local ballot measures in DelawareLaws governing local ballot measures in DelawareLaws governing local ballot measures in ConnecticutLaws governing local ballot measures in New JerseyLaws governing local ballot measures in New JerseyLaws governing local ballot measures in New YorkLaws governing local ballot measures in ConnecticutLaws governing local ballot measures in MassachusettsLaws governing local ballot measures in Rhode IslandLaws governing local ballot measures in MassachusettsLaws governing local ballot measures in VermontLaws governing local ballot measures in New HampshireLaws governing local ballot measures in MaineLaws governing local ballot measures in New HampshireLaws governing local ballot measures in VermontLocal I&R 50 states Map.png
Source:Local Ballot Initiatives: How citizens change laws with
clipboards, conversations, and campaigns
List of Most Populated Cities in New Jersey
City[9] Population City Type Next election
Newark 277,540 Optional Municipal Charter Law 2014
Jersey City 250,323 Optional Municipal Charter Law 2017
Paterson 146,427 Optional Municipal Charter Law N/A
Elizabeth 125,660 Optional Municipal Charter Law N/A
Trenton 84,899 Optional Municipal Charter Law N/A
Clifton 84,269 Council-Manager Act N/A
Camden 77,283 Optional Municipal Charter Law N/A
Passaic 69,893 Optional Municipal Charter Law N/A
Union City 67,187 Optional Municipal Charter Law N/A
East Orange 64,365 General law city N/A


External links

References