New Jersey could make voter registration easier

New Jersey State Capitol building in Trenton. (Alan Tu/WHYY)

New Jersey State Capitol building in Trenton. (Alan Tu/WHYY)

Applying for a driver’s license in New Jersey, or renewing one, would automatically register you to vote if Governor Phil Murphy signs a bill passed by both houses of the Legislature.

The measure allows automatic registration to be expanded so it would happen when filing documents with other state agencies.

New Jersey Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso is among the Republican lawmakers who voted against it, calling it costly and unnecessary. “The legislation will simply flood the Secretary of State and county offices with applications for people already registered to vote. Why? Because 90 percent of New Jerseyans are already registered and each one of those applications will have to be updated in addition to the new voter registration applications,” she said.

Republican Senator Sam Thompson worries the legislation increases the chance of voter fraud. “The bill requires that essentially every application you submit to DMV and other agencies will contain various information including information of what is required to be eligible to vote. However, it does not require the individual to acknowledge that he meets these requirements,” said Thompson.

Democrat Assemblyman Gary Schaer said there are safeguards. “There is an affirmation statement which is part and parcel where one affirms that one is eligible. In those cases where that eligibility is not correct and inadvertently wrong, the name would be simply stricken.”

Advocates say boosting registration will help create a more inclusive democracy.

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