On Monday, Oct. 5, the Senate State Government Committee approved S-3042. This bill permits two or more candidates running for election to a board of education to circulate a nominating petition jointly and to be bracketed together for the same term.

Under the bill, candidates could sign and/or circulate a joint petition of nomination for the same term. When two or more such candidates also wish to be bracketed together on a ballot, they would provide written notice to the secretary of the board of education for an April election, or the county clerk, for a November election, prior to the drawing for ballot positions. The candidates would determine among themselves the order that their names are to appear within the bracket prior to notifying the secretary. After the drawing occurs, the candidates who are bracketed together will share a position on the ballot as a group and have their names printed together in the appropriate location on the ballot, depending on whether the candidates are to be elected to fill an expired or an unexpired term.

In 2014, Gov. Chris Christie conditionally vetoed an earlier version of this bill in which he called for a study of bracketing. S-3042 appears to be responsive to this earlier concern by providing that the New Jersey Secretary of State, in consultation with the education commissioner and the clerk of each county, is to conduct a study of the impact of allowing the bracketing of candidates together and designations of candidates’ principles on school election petitions and ballots, as provided for by the bill. The study is to be based on data collected from school districts holding annual elections in either April or November for three years following the enactment of the act.

The bill, which passed the full Assembly in June 2015, now heads to the full Senate for a vote.