Democratic legislative leaders plan to introduce and fast-track legislation that would make sweeping changes to New Jersey voting laws in an attempt to bring more voters to the polls in a state where turnout and registration rates are in decline, NJ Advance Media has learned. The “Democracy Act” will include about a dozen measures to expand voter access, according to representatives of left-leaning groups that are backing the plan. It will be introduced just a month after Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton sharply criticized Republicans for attempting to squelch voter participation, prompting a sharp rebuke from Gov. Chris Christie, a likely GOP White House contender.
The package will also include a bill that would clear up the state’s contradictory laws for replacing U.S. Senators, and ban governors from calling special elections like the one Christie ordered following Democrat Frank Lautenberg’s death in 2013.
The state’s Democratic legislative leaders on Monday plan a Statehouse press conference to unveil the bill, and advocates believe it will likely land on the governor’s desk by the end of June, according to Analilia Mejia, executive director of the New Jersey Working Families Alliance, which has spearheaded the effort. Several legislative sources confirmed the plans. Spokespeople for Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester) and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson) declined to comment.