TRENTON – Automatic voter registration is now a reality at motor vehicle agencies throughout New Jersey, thanks to a bill signed into law by Governor Phil Murphy.
The opportunity is available for all eligible state residents who apply for a driver’s license, an examination permit, a probationary driver’s license, or a non-driver identification card.
“With the implementation of this law, we join a number of other states and the District of Columbia in expanding and protecting voting rights for our citizens,’’ said Governor Murphy. “By taking this action, we are affirmatively rejecting efforts by President Trump and others who would restrict this fundamental right and attempt to suppress the vote.”
Motor Vehicle Commission staff worked through the weekend to have the electronic voter registration steps in place by this week.
“I’m proud of our team and how they worked diligently to have this option ready for our customers ahead of the Nov. 1 deadline required by law,’’ said New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission Chief Administrator Sue Fulton. “We are proud to serve the people of New Jersey and proud to join with other states providing this very important service in the name of good and responsible citizenship.’’
Chief Administrator Fulton said the MVC used technologies, in conjunction with the Department of State, already in place to automatically register voters, unless they elect to “opt out” of registering. Previously, MVC customers had to “opt in,’’ or deliberately select an option to register to vote. Now they are automatically registered unless they select the option declining the opportunity.
Included in the process are safeguards for victims of domestic violence or stalking, who may decline the automatic voter registration and register to vote without disclosing their street address.
The law allows for the electronic transmission of voter registration information between the MVC and the Department of State for use in the Statewide Voter Registration System.
The law also requires that any change of address for registered voters be transmitted to the Secretary of State so that voter rolls and information are automatically updated.
“Automatic voter registration is another important component in our efforts to make sure voting is readily accessible to all, whether it be through vote-by-mail or at the polls,” Secretary of State Tahesha Way said.
The new law also enables any state agency that collects documents that would provide proof of eligibility, including age, citizenship, and residence to register voters upon approval from the Secretary of State. MVC and other state agencies will not be able to register voters for the upcoming 2018 election, as the registration deadline has passed.
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