Welcome to New Jersey’s branch of The Polling Place blog! The blog will contain news, opinion pieces, and Polling Place updates written by the New Jersey team members of The Polling Place.
Our first blog post concerns the debate over same-day voting in New Jersey.
In the midst of a national push for improved voting rights, New Jersey has passed several important pro-democratic policies. These include early in-person voting, ending legislative prison-based gerrymandering, restoring voting to those on probation and parole, and automatic online voter registration.
Despite these policy shifts , New Jersey noticeably lacks one initiative to further expand voter accessibility to underrepresented and marginalized groups: same-day registration. This policy would allow people to register and vote on the same day, and 20 states including Washington D.C. have already implemented it. New Jersey, however, mandates a three week period between registration and voting.
The benefits of same-day registration can’t be understated. Evan Solomon for The Franchise Project in 2018 estimates that the policy boosted voter turnout by an average of 10 percentage points during the 2012 election, and can increase youth turnout in presidential elections by as much as 15%.
More specifically, Black voter turnout is up to 17 percentage points higher — and Latino turnout 17.5 percentage points higher — in states with same-day voter registration. For instance, In states such as North Carolina people of color overwhelmingly voted by same-day registration in the 2008 election.
In addition to increasing voting accessibility , Walter Shapiro, a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice, writes that same-day registration “cuts through many of the arguments that [have been] brandished throughout the voting wars.” He furthers that since “Reasonable voter ID would be required since election officials don’t have enough time to verify eligibility,” election security would improve and many policies targeting voter fraud would be rendered irrelevant.
One argument in opposition to same-day registration concerns ill-informed voting. Matthew Gagnon for Bangor Daily News writes that “most of the people [same-day voter registration] serves are unengaged in the process.”
While same-day registration may cater to those less inclined to vote otherwise, the increase in turnout is an important first step towards engaging the rest of the population in elections. Passing this policy would continue in New Jersey’s trend of increasing voter accessibility and engagement.
Keep following The Polling Place NJ to stay updated on New Jersey’s election cycles and voter information!