TRENTON, NJ – Legislation to automatically register and update voter registration for those applying for a driver’s license, examination permit, probationary driver’s license or non-driver identification card, dubbed "Motor Voter", is now law.
The bill, which Gov. Phil Murphy signed Tuesday, was sponsored by Assembly Democrats Speaker Craig Coughlin, Gary Schaer, Joann Downey, Daniel Benson, Benjie Wimberly, John McKeon, Mila Jasey and Nicholas Chiaravalloti.
The law also permits any state agency that the Secretary of State verifies already collects documents that would provide proof of eligibility, to establish and implement a procedure to automatically and electronically transmit voter registration information to the Secretary of State for the purpose of registering such persons to vote or update their voter registration.
“This is designed to encourage participation in the democratic process by integrating voter registration with the process of driver registration,” said Coughlin (D-Middlesex). “This simple move will hopefully encourage more young people to register to vote and make it easier for residents to fulfill their civic duty.”
The law (A-2014) automatically registers and updates voter registration for those applying for a driver’s license, examination permit, probationary driver’s license or non-driver identification card.
Senator Sam Thompson (R-12), opposed to the legislation, released the following statement in response to Murphy’s signing of the “Motor Voter” legislation.
“Governor Murphy is trying to fix a problem that doesn’t exist on the New Jersey taxpayers’ dime," Thompson said. "According to the U.S. Census Bureau and the New Jersey Division of Elections, 92 percent of eligible voters in the state are already registered and able to vote in elections should they choose to do so."
“This unneeded ‘fix’ will cost the taxpayers of New Jersey millions of dollars and will undoubtedly lead to increased voter fraud," Thompson said.
“Governor Murphy’s time would be better spent trying to fix things that are actually broken in government, such as our inequitable school funding formula, underfunded pension systems, and overly expensive public employee benefits that contribute to high property tax bills,” he said.
Many democrats disagree.
“Sometimes voter turnout can be stymied simply by the fact that would-be voters have forgotten to update their registration because they moved,” said Schaer (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Hopefully this will encourage first time drivers to engage in the voting process and also make it easier for others to ensure that their voter registration stays current.”
“Youth turnout in elections has been at an historic low in recent years,” said Downey (D-Monmouth). “By making it easier for them to register, hopefully we can create a more conscientious mindset towards voting amongst our youngest generation.”
“This is a simple and common sense step,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “Anything we can do to make it easier to register to vote is a good thing.”
“We should have been doing this already,” said Wimberly (D-Passaic/Bergen). “Increasing voter registration is something we can all agree upon.”
“This is a great step forward,” said McKeon (D-Essex/Morris). “Automatic voter registration makes so much sense.”
“Encouraging voter participation is something we should always be doing,” said Jasey (D-Essex/Morris). “This is a positive step toward higher voter turn-out.”
“We should use all the tools available to boost voter registration,” said Chiaravalloti (D-Hudson). “This is an easy and simple way to accomplish that worthy goal.”