From a Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law press release:
Both chambers of the New Jersey State Legislature will consider a bill today that establishes automatic voter registration, a process that would streamline the state’s voter registration procedures and energize the state’s elections. If passed and signed by Gov. Phil Murphy, New Jersey would become the 12th state — along with Washington, D.C. — to approve the reform, which the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, the League of Women Voters of New Jersey, the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, and a number of other local organizations have supported for years.
Automatic voter registration is an approach to registering eligible voters that makes voter rolls more accurate and up-to-date, boosts voter participation, and saves money. The bill in New Jersey requires a simple change to the touch screen systems at the state’s Motor Vehicle Commission, or MVC, where New Jerseyans would automatically be registered to vote unless they opt out. If the bill becomes law, the Garden State will join a diverse and bipartisan group leading the national movement for reform. In just the last few weeks, AVR has become law in Washington state and Maryland, and California is set to launch its AVR program next week.
“Automatic voter registration is a win-win for New Jersey,” said Myrna Pérez, deputy director of the Brennan Center’s democracy program and head of its voting rights and elections project. “This crucial reform will make registering more practical and efficient for voters, and it will make voter rolls more accurate for election officials. We’re heartened that lawmakers also made provisions to eventually expand the program to other state agencies in a thoughtful way.”
“Our democracy is strongest when more eligible voters participate, and when the voting electorate is representative of the state’s population as a whole,” said Ryan P. Haygood, President & CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. “In considering automatic voter registration, New Jersey lawmakers have an opportunity today to take an important step toward realizing the goal of a truly vibrant and inclusive democracy.”
“New Jersey has an opportunity to become a nationwide leader in ensuring accessibility to the ballot,” said Jesse Burns, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey. “Automatic Voter Registration is shown to boost registration rates, save money, and most importantly, it makes it easier for citizens to keep their voting information up to date to ensure they won’t be turned away on election days.”
Like legislation in other states, New Jersey’s bill would allow other state agencies besides the MVC to implement automatic voter registration, but not immediately. That occurs only if election officials confirm the additional agencies have systems in place, like the MVC already does, to accurately verify eligibility, and then securely collect and transfer voter information.