Voter registration deadline Tuesday (don’t upload vacation pix)
Tuesday is the deadline in New Jersey to register to vote in time to take part in the general election — and state officials are cautioning people who sign up online to make sure they upload the correct files and not, as in some cases already, their vacation pictures.
Since the 2016 presidential election, registration has increased by more than 9%, or almost 547,000. Nearly half of that has come in the past year, as the voter rolls have added 263,000 people – including two Democrats for every new Republican, further padding that party’s huge edge in the state.
More than 322,000 New Jerseyans have used the state’s new online voter registration portal since it opened last month, though not all are new voters. Secretary of State Tahesha Way said they “have used the platform to register or update their registration.”
“So let’s finish strong the next few days,” Way said at a League of Women Voters online event Thursday.
The online voter registration law was supposed to take effect July 19, but Gov. Phil Murphy delayed the implementation deadline to Sept. 2 due to the pandemic.
Jesse Burns, executive director of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey, said she was concerned that wouldn’t leave enough time for people to use it but that the system “has been very successful.”
“Particularly as COVID impacts our ability to do in-person voter registration, the launch of the online voter registration portal was really significant this year,” Burns said.
Burns said it’s a good system because it gives people multiple ways to prove their identities – by entering their driver’s license number, a nondriver identification card issued by the Motor Vehicle Commission or the last four digits of their Social Security number.
“We work for online voter registration across the country, and New Jersey’s online voter registration is one of the best in the country,” Burns said.
Robert Giles, director of the state Division of Elections, said more than half the people using the online voter registration portal have used a Social Security number because it’s something they know without having to pull out their driver’s license.
“I don’t know if there’s very many states that allow you to register to vote using the last four digits of your Social Security number,” said Robert Giles, director of the state Division of Elections. “Most of them are just your driver’s license. So we felt that it was a greater opportunity for folks to be able to register to vote.”
For people who register using a driver’s license, the signature on file with the MVC is transferred to the election offices. Those using a Social Security number either have to sign on a phone or touchscreen or upload a computer file containing their signature.
“If you’re signing any kind of screen, please sign carefully and have it look like your actual signature,” Burns said. “Don’t do the quick, FedEx-just-arrived scribble. It is your signature, so make sure that you are signing it accurately.”
“We are seeing that,” Giles said. “They’re using their phones, so they’re trying to sign on their phone screen or on a tablet. And that’s really important, that you provide as accurate a signature as possible.”
“If you’re going to upload a file from your computer, make sure it’s your signature file,” Giles added. “We have gotten vacation pictures loaded. People are grabbing the wrong file in some cases. So you want to make sure they grab the right file and put that in there.”
Giles said there is a "cure process" for voters whose vote-by-mail signatures don’t match their voter registration but that it requires filling out another form and that the ballot is initially rejected.
Giles said even before a person registers to vote online, they should check the “Am I Registered?” page on the Division of Elections site.
“Make sure your information is accurate, and if you are registered to vote, then you don’t need to go through the online voter registration or submit another form,” he said. “It will give you an opportunity to check your registration and, like I said, make sure it’s accurate.”
Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.