With time running out for Governor Christie to take action on the groundbreaking New Jersey Democracy Act, a broad and diverse coalition of advocates are urging Christie to stand with the overwhelming majority of his constituents by signing the bill into law. “New Jerseyans across party lines strongly support modernizing voting laws to make it easier for people to vote and register to vote,” Rob Duffey, Policy and Communications Director for New Jersey Working Families. “Now Governor Christie faces a simple choice. Will he stand with his constituents and modernize voting in New Jersey, or will he cater to Republican primary voters in South Carolina or Arizona that want to roll hard-won voting rights back?” Advocates said that the comprehensive voter modernization bill would reduce barriers to voter registration and voter participation. Its provisions include automatic voter registration, online voter registration, expanded early in-person voting, and census-based language inclusion in voting and ballot materials.
“New Jersey has this opportunity to be a voting rights champion, setting the example for exemplary democratic engagement for our nation,” said Nancy Hedinger, president of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey. “In-person early voting, and automatic and online voter registration will modernize our outdated voting laws, remove unnecessary barriers to full participation, increase voter turnout and ease access to the ballot.”
A nonpartisan 2014 ranking of election systems by Pew Charitable Trusts ranked New Jersey 37th in how it runs its elections. New Jersey ranks 39th in the nation in both percentage of eligible voters registered and percent of voters who actually vote. A staggering 1.6 million eligible New Jerseyans are unregistered to vote.
“New Jersey’s voting laws are stuck in the 19th Century, and as a result we have fallen behind while other states use existing technology and modern voting practices to increase voter participation,” said Richard Smith, President of the New Jersey State Conference of NAACP.