May 10, 2022

Bill That Removes Arbitrary Barrier to Voting Stalled This Month 

NEWARK — Over 90 advocacy groups including the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and the League of Women Voters of New Jersey today wrote to Gov. Murphy, Sen. President Scutari and Speaker Coughlin for a second time urging them to pass and sign pending legislation (A1966/S247) to establish same-day voter registration in New Jersey, including on Election Day.

Advocacy groups wrote to Gov. Murphy and legislative leadership in March 2021 and despite support across the state and from Gov. Murphy, the bill remains stalled.

“In the year that has passed, we have seen democracy come under attack both across the country and around the world. State after state has passed laws restricting the right to vote – most often impacting Black and other voters of color. It is crucial for New Jersey to step up as a leader in democracy,” said the letter.

“In the past few months, the sponsors, the Governor’s office, the Secretary of State’s office and advocates have worked on amendments to the legislation to simplify the process and address concerns raised by election officials,” continued the letter. “The bill, with the amendments, uses existing infrastructure and will have minimal – if any – costs. We should make it as easy as possible for people to vote, even when it’s a burden to the government. However, when there is no burden there is no excuse not to expand voting rights.”

In a time where state after state has passed laws restricting the right to vote, campaign advocates argue that it’s crucial for New Jersey, which currently has an arbitrary three-week registration deadline, to step up as a leader and join the 20 other states and D.C. that already have same-day registration.

The letter stated to Gov. Murphy, Sen. Scutari and Speaker Coughlin that “[b]ecause of your leadership, New Jersey has made significant progress in expanding and strengthening our democracy. Early voting, automatic and online voter registration, restoring the right to vote to people on parole and probation and ending prison gerrymandering are a testament to your commitment to making our democracy accessible for all. Unfortunately, however, many of these reforms are undercut by our arbitrary voter registration deadline that needlessly disenfranchises voters every election.”

Same-day registration has been shown to increase turnout for Black and Latina/Latino voters, and in particular young people. It will also cost the state little – if anything – since it uses the already-existing provisional ballot system.

And, as the letter explains, same-day voter registration is as secure as traditional voter registration and also an effective way to remedy inaccurate voting rolls.

The group’s letter also explained that same-day registration is a racial justice issue: “Young people are more diverse in New Jersey than older generations, as over half of millennials in the state are people of color. Generation Z is even more diverse. Black and Brown voters are often purged from voter rolls at higher rates.”

“New Jersey is one of the most diverse states in the nation. We need to show that we are not afraid of democracy here – we embrace it,” the letter concluded.