Republican Governor Chris Christie vetoed an overhaul of New Jersey’s voting procedures that Democrats and the League of Women Voters said would have increased turnout, calling it wasteful and politically motivated. The measure, dubbed the “The Democracy Act,” would have expanded early voting, created online registration and automatically enrolled people applying for a driver’s license unless they opted out. Christie, who vetoed a bill in 2013 that would have required polls to open two weeks before elections, has said the latest effort would have raised the risk of fraud. In a statement accompanying the veto, Christie said he remained doubtful the measure would increase turnout. He said it would “upend” the state’s current early-voting statutes allowing people to cast paper ballots prior to an election. The law would cost an additional $25 million per year, he said.
“I reject this government-knows-best, backward approach that would inconvenience citizens and waste government resources for no justifiable reason,” Christie said Monday in the veto message. “New Jersey taxpayers deserve better than to have their hard-earned tax dollars spent on thinly-veiled political gamesmanship and the state must ensure that every eligible citizen’s vote counts and is not stolen by fraud.”
Tom Hester, a spokesman for Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, said nothing in the measure was objectionable. “The governor never ceases to disappoint,” Prieto said in a statement. “I will confer with my fellow legislative leaders and sponsors to decide the next step, even if that means taking these reforms directly to the voters for approval.”