NJ looks to expand voting by mail — and by 17-year-olds
A state Senate panel Thursday advanced two voting-related bills previously vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie but that are expected to get a warmer reception from Gov. Phil Murphy.
One would allow 17-year-olds to vote in a June primary, so long as they turn 18 years old before a November election. Nearly half of states allow it now, but Christie vetoed bringing the idea to New Jersey in 2016.
“Extending these voting rights will empower these young 17-year-olds,” said Sandra Matsen, advocacy coordinator for the League of Women Voters of New Jersey. ”Basically once a person votes, that person is much more likely to vote again.”
Murphy supported the idea as a candidate. He also wants to allow early voting 15 days before an election, as well as provide for automatic, online and same-day voter registration.
The Senate state government committee also voted to allow registered voters to sign up for mail-in ballots for all future elections, rather than asking a year at a time or for all future general elections only. Republicans on the committee voted against that bill.
“Why would we continue to mail out ballots after somebody has demonstrated after four years that they’re not voting? Don’t we put any responsibility upon them?” said Sen. Chris Brown, R-Atlantic.
“I understand why you’re saying,” said Sen. Jim Beach, D-Camden. “In the spirit of encouraging voter participation, I do believe that we should do everything possible to make it as easy as possible for individuals to vote.”