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Senator James Beach addresses his new colleagues in the Legislature.

Will Modernize Registration Process, Enhance ‘Motor Voter’ Law

 TRENTON – Senator Jim Beach will introduce legislation today to establish a pilot program creating an automatic voter registration process for Camden County residents who apply for a driver’s license or non-driver identification card. The legislation is modeled after a first-in-the-nation law enacted in Oregon in March that facilitates registration using motor vehicle information.

“Our residents shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to vote. While we offer voter registration at motor vehicle agencies, residents are often focused on the task at hand. Dealing with the necessary paperwork later on can become an inconvenience that results in people foregoing the opportunity to vote,” said SenatorBeach (D-Camden). “People lead busy lives so we should do anything we can to make the process easier for those who want to vote, and to engage more people in the democratic process. This is an opportunity to improve access and create a more convenient process for registration.”

The National Voter Registration Act of 1993, also known as the “Motor Voter Act,” required states to provide individuals with the opportunity to register to vote at the same time they apply for or renew a driver’s license. The senator’s bill seeks to modernize the process by eliminating paper registration on site and creating a streamlined process. The automatic voter registration pilot program would operate for a period of six months. Under the bill, Camden County residents who apply for a driver’s license or non-driver identification card at New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission Offices, and are eligible to be a legal voter, would be automatically registered to vote. The CamdenCounty commissioner of registration would inform the applicant of the automatic registration and of the option to decline being registered or, if not declining, the option to select a political party affiliation. If the applicant does not decline the voter registration within 21 calendar days, the electronic record and digitized signature would constitute a complete voter registration form.

The Secretary of State, Chief Administrator and the Camden County commissioner of registration would be required to submit a report within 60 days following the conclusion of the pilot program to the Governor and Legislature. The report would include recommendations on whether a permanent program for automatic voter registration should be implemented in the state. In an effort to begin a dialogue on this issue statewide, SenatorBeach also plans to introduce a bill to create a statewide automatic registration program.

“With voter turnout consistently low, we should be looking for ways to get rid of any processes that inconvenience voters and can discourage participation. Other states are being more resourceful and creative in easing voter registration, and we should be moving forward with our own efforts. This innovative program would help to streamline voter registration and ensure residents have the ability to vote without having to worry about registration deadlines and other potential hurdles,” said SenatorBeach. “This is a common sense measure that we hope will encourage residents to get out and be part of the election process.”