The Garden State has long been a leader in fighting for a fuller and more robust democracy. It was at the 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City that Fannie Lou Hamer famously delivered her powerful speech in support of Black voting rights on behalf of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.
New Jersey’s lawmakers have a unique opportunity to build on this history and have the state serve as an exemplar of an inclusive democracy that maximizes participation for all eligible residents. Last year, the Legislature did just that by approving reforms with bipartisan support — like automatic voter registration and expanded early voting. Unfortunately, the bills were vetoed and residents of the state never had a chance to benefit from the changes.
Lawmakers must remain undeterred. Reform is essential if we are to ensure that democracy fairly represents the needs of all residents, regardless of their background or circumstance. It must remain a priority for the remaining months of this session and into the next.
Toward that end, we urge the New Jersey Legislature to pass legislation providing: (1) automatic voter registration; (2) the restoration of voting rights to people with past criminal convictions living in the community; and (3) minimum early voting requirements.