The Anti-Defamation league joined civic organizations in speaking out against Gov. Chris Christie’s veto of a bill that would make it easier for New Jerseyans to vote.
The bill, titled the Democracy Act, was passed by the Legislature in June.
It provided for early in-person voting, on-line voter registration, and automatic voter registration when applying for a driver’s license.
In a Nov. 9 statement, the governor said he opposed the bill because its provisions could add as much as $25 million in state election costs.
“I don’t want to expand it and increase the opportunities for fraud,” added the governor, a Republican who is seeking his party’s presidential nomination.
His veto drew fire from the ADL.
“We are disappointed with Gov. Christie’s veto of this important legislation, which would have made it easier to vote in New Jersey,” said Joshua Cohen, regional director of ADL’s NJ office, in a Nov. 11 press release. “People who are eligible to vote should not have to face unnecessary barriers. It is critical for the health of our democracy that all eligible voters can make their voices heard,” he said.
Adding her voice to the debate was a veteran Jewish activist from Maplewood, Michelle Bobrow.
Bobrow is a past chair of the state National Council of Jewish Women’s public affairs committee and a past member of NCJW’s national board. She is also past state vice president and board member of the League of Women Voters of NJ, an organization that supported the legislation.
“I am concerned because voting should be more open and accessible than it is,” she told NJ Jewish News.
Citing the lowest turnout on record for the Nov. 3 statewide election, she said, “Politics is becoming polarized and people are becoming more disenfranchised. If some of the provisions of the Democracy Act were passed, it would make voting easier. We want to encourage people to vote, not discourage them.”
A nonpartisan 2014 study by Pew Charitable Trusts ranked New Jersey as 39th in the nation in both percentage of eligible voters registered and percentage of voters who actually vote.
“The Democracy Act would have placed New Jersey at the forefront of a nationwide effort to modernize voting and protect civil rights,” Udi Ofer, the Israeli-born executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, told PolitickerNJ. “It’s now time for New Jersey to implement commonsense reforms that will protect all New Jerseyans’ voting rights and strengthen our state’s democracy.”
Opinions on voting rights legislation tend to fall along partisan divides; Republicans more often charge that such legislation would increase election fraud, while Democrats say that Republican lawmakers are eager to suppress poor and minority voters, who tend to vote Democratic.