Barely 26 hours after Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill intended to overhaul New Jersey’s voting system and boost voter participation, Democratic state lawmakers from both chambers met in a rare joint caucus to chart a new course. The bill, called the Democracy Act, would make voter registration automatic upon applying for a driver’s license and expand early voting. Among other provisions, the bill (A4613) would resolve the state’s contradictory U.S. Senate succession rules and require pre-election materials be printed in more languages. Democrats pushing the bill have said it will increase access to the ballot and boost voter participation. Nationally, Democrats have sought to enfranchise more voters, while Republicans have expressed concern about fraud.
In a message accompanying the veto Monday, Christie — a Republican presidential candidate — said the changes were a partisan gambit and the legislation would have “recklessly replaced New Jersey’s reliable and cost-effective early voting process with a hasty and counterproductive system that would cost taxpayers $25 million initially and millions more each subsequent year.”
“This bill does not reflect a genuine bipartisan effort to further improve the state’s election system. Far from it, this bill is a manifest attempt to use reform for political gain,” he wrote.
Christie’s veto was widely expected but came more than four months after it passed both chambers.