- Legislative Priority: Passage of same-day voter registration and New Jersey Voting Rights Act
Why is this on New Jersey LCV’s Common Agenda?
Not only does the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters have voters in our name, we are committed to ensuring eligible voters have access to their constitutional right unencumbered. In addition, voter participation in New Jersey lags – requiring the removal of barriers that limit access to voting. Voters who are able to vote for their candidates of choice are able to gain political power to influence and change policies that affect their communities. This can lead to narrowed racial wealth disparities and reduced racial inequality in areas such as health, education, mortality, and other favorable life outcomes.
The New Jersey Voting Rights Act was introduced in 2023, but did not move in the 2022-2023 session. We must pass a strong version of this bill to codify existing federal voting rights protections and expand and strengthen them with fundamental voting protections. Voters in New Jersey, especially voters of color, face too many barriers when it comes to casting their ballots. In recent years, we’ve seen voting protections in state after state weakened and under attack. New Jersey must pass our own Voting Rights Act that codifies and expands fundamental voting rights and access. Voters of color often face challenges when trying to vote, such as late openings and long lines on Election Day, struggles with physical access to polling locations for those with disabilities and language accessibility for those with limited English proficiency. Many voters find it difficult to access the court when they are disenfranchised. We are stronger as a nation when all have the right to vote.
Same-Day Voter Registration allows an individual who is an eligible voter to register to vote and cast a ballot on the same day. In New Jersey, voters must register to vote prior to the registration deadline, which is 21 days before the election. Over 20 states have removed this arbitrary barrier and enacted a version of Same-Day Voter Registration. This policy is important for increasing access to the ballot for all voters, and it is also a racial justice issue. The registration deadline is an outdated and arbitrary rule that inhibits eligible residents from updating their voting records and registering to vote within three weeks of any election. Numerous social justice organizations have advocated for Same-Day Voter Registration since its introduction in 2020, and unfortunately this important legislation was not passed in the 2022-2023 session.