By a vote of 54-24, the full Assembly granted final legislative approval to a bill sponsored by Assembly Democrats Craig Coughlin, Gary Schaer, Tim Eustace, Joann Downey, Daniel Benson, Benjie Wimberly, John McKeon, Mila Jasey and Nicholas Chiaravalloti that would require the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission to automatically register or update a person’s voter registration as part 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 encourage more young people to register to vote and 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).
“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 be 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.”
The bill (A-1944) requires the MVC to automatically register to vote or automatically update a person’s voter registration as part of the process of applying for or renewing a driver’s license.
Under current law, each applicant for a driver’s license or renewal of an existing license is offered an opportunity 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, examination permit, probationary driver’s license, basic driver’s license, or nondriver 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 to the Division of Elections in the Department of State in an electronic format. 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.
The bill also requires the chief administrator to provide for a statement to be printed on the application informing the applicant that by submitting the application, the applicant is consenting to register to vote and is legally permitted to vote. A separate statement must be printed on the application, in bold-faced capital letters, notifying the applicant that victims of domestic violence or stalking may decline the automatic voter registration and register to vote without disclosing the applicant’s street address.
The measure now heads to the Governor’s desk.