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Gov. Christie Vetoes Groundbreaking Voting Reform in New Jersey

Christie’s veto prevents New Jersey from becoming the third state in the country to enact automatic registration, which would have helped boost registration rates, clean up the rolls, and save money.

November 9, 2015

Today, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a compre­hens­ive elec­tion reform bill designed to boost regis­tra­tion rates, clean up the rolls, save money, and make voting more conveni­ent.

Christie’s veto prevents New Jersey from becom­ing the third state in the coun­try to enact auto­matic regis­tra­tion, a ground­break­ing reform that puts the onus on the govern­ment to sign up eligible citizens at the DMV. Oregon passed this break­through law in March, followed by Cali­for­nia in Octo­ber. Both are expec­ted to add hundreds of thou­sands of eligible voters to the rolls. Had Gov. Christie signed the bill, 16 percent of the nation’s popu­la­tion would have lived in states with auto­matic voter regis­tra­tion. New Jersey’s bill, the Demo­cracy Act, also included provi­sions to create two weeks of in-person early voting and add online regis­tra­tion, among other changes.

“Auto­matic regis­tra­tion is good for the coun­try, and good for New Jersey,” said Myrna Pérez, deputy director of the Demo­cracy Program at the Bren­nan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. “The Demo­cracy Act would have made our regis­tra­tion lists more accur­ate and up to date, and voting more flex­ible and conveni­ent. We are extremely disap­poin­ted Governor Christie chose to veto a bill with these kinds of proven bene­fits. Instead of passing laws that make it harder for Amer­ic­ans to vote, lawmakers must work to modern­ize our voting system for the 21st century.”

“Governor Christie’s wrong­headed decision to veto the New Jersey Demo­cracy Act places him on the wrong side of New Jersey voters and the wrong side of history,” said Analilia Mejia, exec­ut­ive director of New Jersey Work­ing Famil­ies. “While Governor Christie may want to keep our voting prac­tices stuck in the 1950s, he need not have the last word. Reforms like auto­matic voter regis­tra­tion, online voter regis­tra­tion, and early voting are essen­tial to ensur­ing broad parti­cip­a­tion of New Jersey’s elect­or­ate. New Jersey legis­lat­ors should give the voters the power to strengthen their own voting rights by putting provi­sions of the Demo­cracy Act on the ballot in 2016.”  

Despite the governor’s veto, legis­lat­ors and advoc­ates remain commit­ted to bring­ing these reforms — along with other voter-friendly policies like restor­a­tion of voting rights to people with past crim­inal convic­tions — to New Jersey.

The veto also comes as Amer­ica faces a fever pitch battle over the right to vote. Since the 2010 elec­tion, 21 states have new voting restric­tions in place — and in 15 states, next year will be the first time these rules are in effect for a pres­id­en­tial elec­tion, which is marked by high turnout. Since the 2012 elec­tion, however, 23 states plus the District of Columbia have passed new laws to improve voting. This total does not include New Jersey, where Gov. Christie has vetoed two voting reform bills since 2013.

Read more about auto­matic, perman­ent voter regis­tra­tion.

For more inform­a­tion, or to set up an inter­view, contact Erik Opsal (, 646–292–8356) or Rob Duffey (rduffey@­work­ing­fam­il­, 973–991–9745).