Gov. Phil Murphy recently signed legislation into law that expands voter registration in New Jersey. Pursuant to Assembly Bill No. 2014, the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) will automatically register to vote and update voter registration for eligible applicant when applying for motor vehicle driver’s license, examination permit, probationary driver’s license, or non-driver identification card.
Under prior law in New Jersey, each applicant for a driver’s license or renewal of an existing license was offered an opportunity to simultaneously register to vote. Assembly Bill No. 2014 will effectively change the current system from an “opt-in” system to an “opt-out” system so that a driver’s license applicant will be registered to vote unless he or she specifically declines the voter registration option.
Once Assembly Bill No. 2014is fully implemented, the following notices will be provided with every application for a driver’s license or non-driver identification card and every related update, renewal, or change of address:
- A notice that the applicant will be registered to vote, if eligible, unless the applicant specifically declines the automatic voter registration;
- A notice of the voter eligibility requirements and the penalties for false registration and illegal voting under State law, which must include an affirmation that the applicant meets those requirements and require the applicant’s signature, under penalty of law; and
- A notice that an applicant who is a victim of domestic violence or stalking may decline the automatic voter registration and register to vote without disclosing the applicant’s street address.
The MVC is required to ensure that all the information necessary for voter registration is collected and promptly electronically transmitted to the Secretary of State. For instance, a change of address notification in paper format must be reported to the Secretary of State within 10 days, and the Secretary of State will use the notification to update an existing voter registration, unless the applicant declines.
Under the new voter registration law, any other State agency that already collects documents that would provide proof of eligibility, including age, citizenship, and residence address, may establish and implement, upon approval by the Secretary of State, a procedure for automatic voter registration. Any additional agencies that are designated for automatic registration must comply with the same requirements and must provide the same notices.
The new law will take effect November 1, 2018.
For more information about the new voter registration lawor the legal issues involved, we encourage you to contact Michael A. Jimenez, Esq., Counsel and a member of Scarinci & Hollenbeck’s Government Law Group.