An Assembly panel on Monday approved legislation (A-1944) sponsored by Assembly Democrats Craig Coughlin, Gary Schaer and Tim Eustace that would require the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) to automatically register or update a person’s voter registration as part of the process of applying for or renewing a driver’s license.
“This bill 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 make it easier for residents to fulfill their civic duty.”
“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.”
“Given the increasingly low voter turnouts we see regularly nowadays, this bill will hopefully help boost voter registration and encourage participation in the democratic process by making it easier for folks to register,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic).
Under current law, each applicant for a driver’s license is offered an opportunity by the MVC to simultaneously register to vote. The bill provides that the MVC would automatically register to vote any person who applies for a special learner’s permit, an examination permit, a probationary driver’s license, a basic driver’s license, or a non-driver identification card, or for renewal of any license or identification card, according to the permanent address provided by the applicant, unless the applicant specifically declines the automatic voter registration.
The chief administrator of the MVC would forward the personal information required to register to vote in an electronic format to the Division of Elections in the Department of State. Submission of an application would serve as consent to be registered to vote at the permanent address provided by the applicant, unless the applicant specifically declines the automatic registration.
Additionally, the chief administrator would provide for the following statement to be printed on the application for a special learner’s permit, an examination permit, a provisional driver’s license, a basic driver’s license, or a non-driver identification card:
“By submitting this application, I am consenting to registering to vote in the State of New Jersey and I am legally permitted to do so as a citizen of the United States of America. If under 18 years of age, I understand that I will be registered to vote when I attain the age of 18 years.”
The bill was approved by the Assembly Judiciary Committee.