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Voting booths await voters in Red Oak, Iowa, Tuesday, June 3, 2014, ahead of the Iowa primary elections. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

New Jersey becomes the 12th state with Automatic Voter Registration


Gov. Phil Murphy on Tuesday signed into law a bill making voter registration automatic for New Jersey residents who interact with the state’s Motor Vehicle Commission.

Murphy, a Democrat, said in a tweet before he signed the law that it would be among “the most expansive Automatic Voter Registration policies in the nation”

“In the age of President Trump and voter suppression, states must expand, not just protect, voting rights,” Murphy said.

He signed the bill Tuesday after the Democrat-led Legislature sent it to his desk last week.

The measure makes New Jersey the 12th state along with the District of Columbia to have automatic voter registration.

The new law says that voters should be given a chance to opt out of registration when they’re dealing with the motor vehicle department. It also authorizes any state agency that collects information showing proof of voting eligibility to set up the chance for automatic registration.

Republicans opposed the measure and say it attempts to address a problem that’s not an issue.

“The vast majority of New Jersey residents are already registered to vote, so this legislation is a completely unnecessary expense,” Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. said during a recent news conference on the measure.

A legislative fiscal estimate accompanying the bill showed the costs to be “indeterminate.”

Census data from 2016, the latest available, show that New Jersey has roughly 6.1 million eligible voters. State election data from the same year show more than 5.8 million, or about 95 percent are registered.

Former Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, rejected similar legislation in 2016, saying that the need for such a law was “questionable at best.” He also said it would cost $1 million up front and about $400,000 a year to maintain.

The law is set to go into effect by November, but the current voter registration deadline is Oct. 16.

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