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Gov. Phil Murphy is expected to sign the legislation to expand early voting in New Jersey.

New Jersey to institute permanent early voting system

Amid nationwide efforts to restrict access to the ballot box, New Jersey is pushing ahead with plans to expand voting opportunities for the state's upcoming elections.

On Thursday, the state Senate voted 28-8 to approve a bill requiring early in-person voting options for primary and general elections. The state House voted in favor of the bill earlier this month, so it now goes to Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, who is expected to sign it as early as next week.

It's unclear, however, if there will be enough time or money to get the new early voting system in place in time for gubernatorial, state legislative and municipal primaries in June and general elections in November.

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You've winnowed the field: Democracy Madness reaches the Final Four

The democracy reform movement is full of scores of ideas for improving the American political system, many of them compatible with one another. But we have challenged readers of The Fulcrum to pick their favorites from among a field of 64, narrowing the options as we go. And now we're down to the Final Four.

It's time now to vote in the two semi-final matchups of the Democracy Madness tournament, which features the winners of our "regional" brackets: Voting, Money in Politics, Elections and the Best of the Rest.

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Paper ballots win last spot in Democracy Madness Final Four

The drive to mandate paper ballots in every election has won the final "regional" bracket in our Democracy Madness tournament — which asks you, the reader, to select your favorite democracy reform idea from among an original list of 64 concepts.

Paper ballots, the top seat in our "Best of the Rest" division, topped second-seeded federal funding for elections in the championship game for this quadrant of the bracket.

When the Final Four kicks off Monday, paper ballots will challenge the winners of the previous regions: ranked-choice voting (Voting region), repealing the Supreme Court's ruling in the Citizens United case (Money in Politics) and the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (Elections).

Tune in on Monday to vote in the Final Four.

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Top seeds squaring off for the 'best of the rest' in Democracy Madness

Three of the four quarters of Democracy Madness have wrapped up. Now, it's time to crown the champion of the "Best of the Rest" division and move into the Final Four of our reader-driven tournament to come up with the fan favorite proposal for fixing the broken democracy.

The top seeds in this part of the bracket — always using paper ballots in elections (No. 1) and using federal funding to power elections (No. 2) — will square off today and Thursday in the final round of this "regional" competition. Both proposals have breezed past their opponents thus far, though the second seed has had higher win margins during its run.

Can federal election funding upset paper ballots? Or will the lead seed bring home the victory? You decide by clicking "Vote Now" and tracking your pick.

Starting Monday, the champions of each divisional bracket will go head-to-head to decide which reform you think is the top choice.

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