New Jersey Adopts Automatic Voter Registration, Democrats' Cause

(Bloomberg) -- Democratic Governor Phil Murphy made New Jersey the latest U.S. state with automatic voter registration at motor-vehicle agencies as mid-term elections loom in November.

The legislation was sponsored by Democrats and backed by civic groups that said it would ease a paperwork burden and increase election participation. Republicans in New Jersey, like some elsewhere in the country, said it was a gateway to fraud, with the potential to allow undocumented immigrants to vote.

New Jersey’s bill passed both legislative houses along party lines on April 13. Murphy’s predecessor, Republican Chris Christie, vetoed versions in 2016 and 2015, saying the Democratic-led legislature was attempting to increase voter rolls in its favor.

“We stand in stark contrast to President Trump and others whose only interest lays in restricting voting rights and suppressing voters’ voices,” Murphy said before signing the bill in Trenton. “Registering to vote should be simple and seamless.”

Republicans who dominate U.S. Congress are viewed as vulnerable in November as voter sentiment turns against President Donald Trump. New Jersey’s Republican congressmen, with five of the state’s 12 House of Representatives seats, are at risk of losing to Democrats, according to a Monmouth University poll released on Monday.

At least 11 states have a law to automatically register qualified people to vote, unless they opt out, when they use the services of motor-vehicle, social-service and other government offices, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, a non-partisan group that advocates for strong democracy.

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