New Jersey Democrats spent several years developing a bill to overhaul voter registration, a measure that, when finished being written, was the length of a novella. But when it came time to act on it, Democrats who control the Legislature passed the bill within a week, without committee hearings. The final vote came on the day they broke for a summer recess that stretched into the second week of November. It was also the day before Governor Christie declared he was running for president. And those Democrats were so sure Christie would veto the bill that they scheduled a meeting to discuss possible ways around that rejection even before he put pen to paper.
With the backing of groups ranging from local activists like the League of Women Voters and New Jersey Working Families up to the Democratic National Committee and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, New Jersey lawmakers have become part of a national push to change voting laws. And legislators are now mounting an effort to bypass Christie’s veto and put the bill they call the Democracy Act to voters next year.
That would be an unusual (though not unprecedented) response to a veto, but Democratic sponsors view it as necessary at a time when Christie is routinely attacking Democrats, particularly Clinton, as he runs for the Republican presidential nomination. Democrats have presented Christie with several bills on issues popular to their voter base that have prompted his veto, including stronger gun laws and five tax increases for high-income earners — as well as an increase to the minimum wage, which they later did put on the ballot, winning voter approval.