Planet Princeton

Registering to vote will become automatic in NJ if you apply for a driver’s license or identification card

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy today signed a law that requires the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission to automatically register anyone who is eligible to vote who applies for a permit, license, or ID card. Voters also will automatically be registered when they visit other state agencies.

Residents can decide to opt out of the automatic voter registration. Currently, residents must opt in to register to vote when they apply for a license at the Motor Vehicle Commission.

The changes will take effect at the end of the year.

Murphy praised the new law as one of the most expansive automatic voter registration policies in the nation at a press conference in Trenton.

“Today, New Jersey proudly joins a select group of states – 11 plus the District of Columbia – that have enacted automatic voter registration to expand and protect the voting rights of their citizens,” he said. “This stands in stark contrast to those whose only interest lays in restricting voting rights and suppressing voters’ voices. In New Jersey, we recognize our democracy is stronger when more people are given the opportunity to participate and when the residents of our state are empowered to be part of the democratic process.”

The chief administrator of the Motor Vehicle Commission will be required to ensure that all information necessary for voter registration is collected and transmitted electronically to the Secretary of State, except when a person opts out. The bill also expands automatic voter registration to any other state agency that collects proof of voter eligibility, as verified by the Secretary of State. Upon the Secretary’s approval, the agency may implement automatic voter registration for eligible individuals. New Jersey is now only the fourth state to take this additional step.

“Today, we are moving New Jersey forward in its effort to register all eligible citizens,” Secretary of State Tahesha Way said. “By using existing technology to advance our voter registration efforts, the state is demonstrating its commitment to increasing civic participation within our current infrastructure, without sacrificing voter integrity or security. As the state’s chief election official, I’m working across levels of government to ensure that all eligible voters can cast a safe and secure ballot at election time.”

Sponsors of the legislation included state Senators Vitale and Beach, and Assembly members Coughlin, Schaer, Eustace, Downey, Benson, Wimberly, McKeon, Jasey, Chiaravalloti, and Sumter.

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

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