New Jersey had an election last month, and nobody showed up. Yes, that’s an exaggeration, but just barely: The primary turnout was the lowest in 90 years. Our elected officials – who apparently want to be taken more seriously than the rest of us take them – recognize this as a trend. We avoid the polls like anthrax, so the voting reform package sent to the governor included smart proposals such as early-voting accommodation, registration for eligible residents when obtaining a driver’s license, and online registration. But when the omnibus bill advanced out of committee, same-day registration – which allows for residents to register at polling places on Election Day and cast provisional ballots – wasn’t in it.
It hardly matters whether this was a large-D Democratic dysfunction or just a legislative hiccup, but that provision must be restored to address the turnout deficit.
Even if Gov. Christie vetoes the package – the lock of the century, that — Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester) should give voters their annual whack at amending the state constitution to affirm that voter participation must be a priority in a state where too many stay home.
And same-day registration is the one component that can reverse the trend.