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NJ Legislators Approve Law To Make MVC Register Drivers To Vote

It won't be mandatory for drivers.
It won't be mandatory for drivers. Photo Credit:

Gov. Christie will be asked to sign into law a measure from state legislators that requires the state Motor Vehicle Commission to automatically register or update a person’s voter registration as part of applying for or renewing a driver’s license.

It's not mandatory for drivers: They would have the option to decline, under the bill.

“We should be doing this already,” said Assemblywoman Benjie Wimberly (D-Passaic/Bergen). “Increasing voter registration is something we can all agree upon.”

“Sometimes voter turnout can be stymied simply by the fact that would-be voters have forgotten to update their registration because they moved,” added Assemblyman Gary Schaer (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Hopefully this will encourage first time drivers to engage in the voting process and also make it easier for others to ensure that their voter registration stays current.”

“Given the increasingly low voter turnouts we see regularly nowadays, this bill will hopefully help boost voter registration and encourage participation in the democratic process by making it easier for folks to register,” said Tim Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic).

Youth turnout in elections "has been at an historic low in recent years,” said Joanne Downey (D-Monmouth). “By making it easier for them to register, hopefully we can create a more conscientious mindset towards voting amongst our youngest generation.”

Under current New Jersey law, each applicant for a driver’s license or renewal of an existing license is offered an opportunity to simultaneously register to vote.

The new law, if signed by Christie, makes it mandatory for the MVC to automatically register to vote anyone who applies for a special learner’s permit, examination permit, probationary driver’s license, basic driver’s license, or nondriver identification card or for renewal of any license or identification card, according to the permanent address provided by the applicant, unless the applicant specifically declines the automatic voter registration.

The chief administrator of the MVC would forward the personal information required to register to vote to the Division of Elections in the Department of State in an electronic format.

Submission of an application would serve as consent to be registered to vote at the permanent address provided by the applicant -- again, unless the applicant specifically declines the automatic registration.

The bill also requires the chief administrator to provide for a statement to be printed on the application informing the applicant that by submitting the application, the applicant is consenting to register to vote and is legally permitted to vote.

A separate statement must be printed on the application, in bold-faced capital letters, notifying the applicant that victims of domestic violence or stalking may decline the automatic voter registration and register to vote without disclosing the applicant’s street address.

Both the state Senate and on Tuesday the Assembly approved the measure.

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