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Press Release

A Chorus of Voices Supporting New Jersey’s AVR Bill

New Jersey set to become the 12th state in the country (plus the District of Columbia) to approve automatic voter registration

April 12, 2018

The Brennan Center has long advocated for automatic voter registration in New Jersey alongside a core group of allies and legislators. Here’s what some of them have to say about the newly-passed bill.


“This bill is designed to encourage participation in the democratic process by integrating voter registration with the process of driver registration,” said Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin. “This simple move will hopefully encourage more young people to register to vote and make it easier for residents to fulfill their civic duty.”

“It is the civic duty of every American citizen to vote, and automatic registration at license application or renewal will make it easier to uphold that duty,” said Senator Joe Vitale. “Our goal is to make it easier for citizens to register to vote and encourage greater participation in the democratic process while at the same time providing necessary safeguards for vulnerable individuals.”

“With voter turnout consistently low, we should be looking for ways to encourage participation by making registration easier,” said Senator Jim Beach. “As we seek to improve voter registration and ultimately voter turnout, this reform will prove valuable.”

“Sometimes voter turnout can be stymied simply by the fact that would-be voters have forgotten to update their registration because they moved,” said Assemblyman Gary Schaer. “Hopefully this will encourage first time drivers to engage in the voting process and also make it easier for others to ensure that their voter registration stays current.”

“Given the increasingly low voter turnouts we see regularly nowadays, this bill will hopefully help boost voter registration and encourage participation in the democratic process by making it easier for folks to register,” said Assemblyman Tim Eustace.

“Youth turnout in elections has been at an historic low in recent years,” said Assemblywoman Joann Downey. “By making it easier for them to register, hopefully we can create a more conscientious mindset towards voting amongst our youngest generation.”

“This is a simple and common sense step,” said Assemblyman Daniel Benson. “Anything we can do to make it easier to register to vote is a good thing.”

“We should be doing this already,” said Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly. “Increasing voter registration is something we can all agree upon.”

“This is a great step forward,” said Assemblyman John McKeon. “Automatic voter registration makes so much sense.”

“Encouraging voter participation is something we should always be doing,” said Assemblywoman Mila Jasey. “This is a positive step toward higher voter turn-out.”

“We should use all the tools available to boost voter registration,” said Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalloti. “This is an easy and simple way to accomplish that worthy goal.”


“State government has an unflagging obligation to affirmatively facilitate voter registration by people eligible to vote,” said Executive Director of New Jersey Appleseed Public Interest Law Center Renee Steinhagen. “This legislation makes automatic voter registration an integral part of the process when eligible people obtain or renew their driver’s license. It also recognizes that government agencies other than MVC have an important role to play in the work of voter registration, and lays the foundation for getting these agencies fully involved in the automatic registration of voters. Because registration before Election Day still remains part of our state, this legislation is of enormous civic importance.  It will meaningfully ensure that all citizens who wish to join the voter rolls will swiftly and easily be able to do so. Appleseed thanks the legislators who sponsored and voted for this bill, along with our partners who have labored for passage of this law.  The passage of the legislation furthers Appleseed’s mission to ensure that all New Jersey citizens eligible to register are in fact registered to vote; that all those registered are able to cast a ballot; and that all votes cast are fully and fairly counted.”

“Passage of the voter registration bills signals New Jerseyans are one step closer to making it easier for every citizen to participate in voting, one of our greatest democratic rights,” said Ed Potosnak, Executive Director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters. “Modernizing our voter registration system will empower thousands to be eligible to participate in our robust democracy and elect environmentally-minded lawmakers.”

“We congratulate the New Jersey Legislature for passing Senate Bill 481,” said Liz Doyle, Senior Vice President of Strategy and Programs, Demos. “Our research shows that AVR legislation promotes a more inclusive electorate, and we are particularly encouraged by New Jersey’s allowance of future expansions of AVR to other agencies upon assessment by the Secretary of State. This legislation will increase the diversity of registered voters and help move toward our goal of achieving a democracy where everyone has an equal voice. We also acknowledge the coalition including New Jersey Working Families for their leadership on this legislation. We urge the Governor to sign SB 481 into law.”

“Thanks to the efforts of Senator Vitale and Speaker Coughlin, New Jersey voters will face one less hurdle in exercising their right to vote and Governor Murphy is one step closer on achieving a key first 100-day goal,” said Analilia Mejia Director of the New Jersey Working Families. “Across the nation, states are taking progressive action to increase registration and participation and we’re proud to note that the Garden State will be a leader in comprehensive reform.”

“At a time when our voting rights have been subject to a nationwide assault, our Legislature has made New Jersey a leader by broadening access to the ballot box,” said ACLU-NJ Executive Director Amol Sinha. “We’re hopeful that this step is just the first of many to expand New Jerseyans’ participation in the democratic process. We look forward to working with the Legislature to end disenfranchisement based on convictions, enable early voting, and secure the power of individuals to assert their voice in the same spirit of today’s important legislative action.”