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VRM in the States: New Jersey

In April 2018, New Jersey became the twelfth state to approve automatic voter registration.

Published: June 28, 2018

On April 17, 2018, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill that made New Jersey the twelfth state to authorize automatic voter registration (AVR). Individuals who interact with the state’s Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) will be registered to vote or have their existing registration information updated, unless they decline. The state is scheduled to implement the system by November 2018. The new law also allows additional state government agencies to implement AVR in the future, so long as the agency is capable of accurately gathering the appropriate, verifiable information needed to add someone to the registration rolls. Learn more about automatic registration here.

This was not the first time that the New Jersey legislature passed AVR. On August 18, 2016, Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill that would have implemented automatic voter registration at MVC offices. That followed Gov. Christie’s 2015 veto of the Democracy Act, which would have implemented automatic registration and other reforms like online registration and early voting

Prior Advances in Voter Registration Modernization 

Automatic voter registration builds on New Jersey’s existing voter registration modernization efforts:  

  • Electronic Voter Registration: New Jersey launched electronic voter registration in 2007, and since then has fully eliminated paper from the process at MVC offices. MVC clerks input voters’ vocal responses electronically and use electronic signatures on file with the MVC. The information is transferred to election officials on a weekly basis.
  • Online Voter Registration: New Jersey enacted online voter registration in 2020, which will allow eligible voters to register or update their voter registration online. 
  • Preregistration: 17-year-olds can preregister to vote. Those who preregister can vote once they turn 18 without needing to re-register.