Legislation Expanding Voters’ Rights Collecting Dust on Christie’s Desk

NJ Spotlight News | September 2, 2015 | Politics
NJ would be the second state in the nation to automatically register eligible voters.

By Briana Vannozzi

All they need is the stroke of the governor’s pen, but even today democratic lawmakers recognized the likelihood of Christie signing the democracy act into law is pretty slim.

“We’re going to get it done one way or another. It’s his choice, but we’re not backing down. We’re going to expand the opportunity for people to participate in elections,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney.

The package of voting reform bills, championed by state Senator Nia Gill and Sweeney will; extend early voting, automatically register eligible voters through the Motor Vehicle Commission, allow for online voter registration, pre-register 17-year-olds and expand the publication of election materials in non-English languages.

Today, with lady liberty in the background democrats made the hard sell.

“This year’s election is going to have a 21 percent to 23 percent turnout. That means the minority of the people in this state are going to control what the majority is going to do,” said Sweeney.

“The $24 million that was wasted on a special election 20 days before the gubernatorial election, this bill gets signed. That kind of shenanigan can no longer be held in New Jersey,” said Senator Loretta Weinberg.

Labor groups and members of the democratic black caucus emphasized many families are working two to three jobs to keep afloat, making it difficult-especially in minority neighborhoods, to get to the polls.

“The democracy act takes into account the schedules of modern families by allowing people to vote in person within two weeks of election day, including on weekends,” said Richard Smith, President of the NJ NAACP.

“We would be the second state in the country to automatically register eligible voters to vote. There are 1.6 million New Jerseyans who are eligible to vote but have not registered,” said Rob Duffy.

Is it really too much to ask to ask someone to fill out a form, to execute your right to vote?” said Christie during his June Ask The Governor broadcast. “A lot of this stuff seems to be a concerted effort from the Democratic National Committee, and there’s not a question in my mind that there are some advocates of this who are looking to increase the opportunities for voter fraud.”

Senator gill says she does agree, politics are at play.

“The strategy of the Republican party is to contract the ability to vote, not to expand it,” she said.

It gets tossed back to Governor Christie. Democrats here want to know: will he stand with Republican primary voters outside the state, or voters here in New Jersey?

We’re in this together
For a better-informed future. Support our nonprofit newsroom.
Donate to NJ Spotlight