Following Christie’s Exit, NJ Mulls Improving Its Democracy

Democratic Governor of New Jersey, Phil MurrayScreengrab/

New Jersey is hoping to encourage more residents to vote after hitting record low election turnouts.

With former Governor Chris Christie's exit, the state of New Jersey is looking once again toward automatic voter registration and other reforms aimed at making it easier to participate in the voting process.

After being rebuffed by former Gov. Chris Christie, lawmakers are again attempting to pass a sweeping set of changes to make it easier to vote, including:

  • Automatic voter registration for eligible citizens who apply for or update a driver’s license
  • Early voting in person for two weeks before Election Day
  • Online voter registration
  • Preregistration of 17-year-olds who will be 18 by the election
  • Other provisions would expand vote-by-mail options, military and overseas voting, and language options for election materials.

Between eligible voters failing to register and registered voters failing to vote, likely along with other factors, voter turnout in New Jersey has hit record lows.

Experts attribute that to a variety of factors, including registration deadlines that pass before people think about voting, the inconvenience of dealing with paper forms, and the difficulties some face getting to the polls on Election Day.
“It’s really about modernizing our outdated voting laws, granting access to people, encouraging access,” said State Assemblyman Louis D. Greenwald, the Democratic majority leader who cosponsored the “Democracy Act” containing the reform efforts.

“We just had a gubernatorial election where the voter turnout was record low for us. That’s not what we should be striving for. We should be striving for full participation and encouraging people to get involved to go out and vote.”