Automatic Voter Registration in New Jersey
New Jersey’s legislature became the second state to pass a bill adopting automatic voter registration, but Governor Chris Christie vetoed the legislation.
On November 9, Governor Chris Christie vetoed the Democracy Act, pro-voter legislation that would have adopted automatic registration and other pro-voter reforms like online registration and early voting. Automatic registration is a modern way of registering voters that is gaining momentum across the country. Automatic registration has the potential to boost registration rates, clean up the rolls, save money, and make voting more convenient.
Automatic registration makes two transformative changes to voter registration. Eligible citizens who interact with government agencies are registered to vote unless they decline, and agencies transfer voter-registration information electronically to election officials. These two changes would create a seamless process that will be more convenient and less error-prone for voters, agency staff, and election officials.
The New Jersey legislation, called the Democracy Act, was part of a trend of legislatures passing automatic registration. In March 2015, Oregon passed a breakthrough law to automatically register eligible citizens who have driver’s licenses (and do not ask to remain unregistered). California's legislature passed a bill authorizing automatic registration in September that Governor Jerry Brown signed into law in October. Moreover, Hillary Clinton has called for automatic registration, as has Senator Bernie Sanders, who also introduced automatic registration legislation in Congress.
The Brennan Center and others encouraged Gov. Chris Christie to sign the Democracy Act into law and bring automatic registration to New Jersey, and press coverage both inside and outside New Jersey have urged the same. Voter advocates have committed to pressing for automatic registration in New Jersey.
- Times of Trenton: Strengthening an American Cornerstone (Hon. Bonnie Watson Coleman, United States Congress)
- Star-Ledger: Democracy Act Makes Necessary Updates to N.J. Election Laws (Louis Greenwald, New Jersey Assembly Majority Leader)
- PolitickerNJ: Advocates Condemn Christie’s Veto of Democracy Act (Rob Duffey, New Jersey Working Families)
- Asbury Park Press: Put Democracy Act Provisions on the Ballot (Nancy Hedinger, League of Women Voters of New Jersey)
- The Philadelphia Inquirer: Expand right to vote in N.J (Analilia Mejia, New Jersey Working Families; and Nancy Hedinger, League of Women Voters of New Jersey)
- The Philadelphia Inquirer: In N.J., fighting for women's right to vote (Analilia Mejia, New Jersey Working Families; Nancy Hedinger, League of Women Voters of New Jersey)
- NewarkInc.: Democracy Act Will Make Newark An Electoral Powerhouse (Analilia Mejia, New Jersey Working Families)
- Star-Ledger: Democracy Act provides first wave in restructuring of N.J. voting laws (Richard T. Smith, NAACP New Jersey State Conference)
- U.S. News and World Report: Wrong on Voting Rights (Wendy Weiser, Brennan Center for Justice)
- Demos.com: Chris Christie Vetoes New Jersey Voting Rights Expansion (Damon Daniels, Demos)
- Huffington Post: Christie Misses a Golden Opportunity for the Garden State (Adam Gitlin, Brennan Center for Justice)
- The Record: Voter Reform Over the Long Haul: NJ Dems Expected Christie Veto, Now Join National Fight