Dems propose changes to NJ voting laws

 New Jersey Democratic legislators outline the Democracy Act proposal intended to encourage more residents to vote. It would allow registering and voting on the same day amid other changes. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

New Jersey Democratic legislators outline the Democracy Act proposal intended to encourage more residents to vote. It would allow registering and voting on the same day amid other changes. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

New Jersey ranks 39th in the nation in voter registration and participation. To make it easier for Garden State residents to cast their ballots, Democrats who control the legislature propose overhauling state election laws.

 

New Jersey’s election laws date back to the early 1900s, said state Senate President Steve Sweeney.

“Modernizing the system so people can vote early, can register online where they can automatically be registered when they get a driver’s license, is just a natural progression with the technology that exists today,” he said.

The “Democracy Act” would also allow registration and voting at the same time in General Elections and permit voting at certain polling places for two weeks in advance of Election Day.

That would give more people the opportunity to vote, said Analilia Mejia, the executive director of the New Jersey Working Families Alliance.

“When you have an economy that is forcing parents, families, to work two jobs, three jobs, care for children, limiting participation in our electoral process to just one short window is counterproductive,” she said.

Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald said the plan would encourage participation in elections.

“When we look at New Jersey with its per capita income, when we look at New Jersey as one of the most well-educated states in the county, when we are trailing states like Mississippi that have registered voters in the 80 percentile and 75 percent vote, and New Jersey’s numbers are continuing to trend downward, it is time to change that trend.” he said.

The Democrats’ plan also would eliminate expensive special elections to fill U.S. Senate vacancies, instead requiring the governor to choose an interim lawmaker from the same party as the departing senator.

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