Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy and the fundamental right upon which all our civil liberties rest. As one of the most diverse states in the country, New Jersey must be a national leader in strengthening voting rights and dismantling barriers to the ballot that disproportionally impact communities of color.
The ACLU-NJ is fighting for expanded and equal access to the ballot by advocating for the passage of a slate of bills that would:
- Build new protections against discrimination in voting and confront barriers to voter participation by passing the New Jersey Voting Rights Act (A4554/S2997)
- Enact same-day voter registration (A1966/S247)
Expanding access to the ballot also means pushing back against legislation that would further entrench unjust barriers to voting. That’s why we’re opposing A2131/S2912, which would increase police presence at polling places.
Enacting the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of New Jersey (passing A4554/S2997)
A strong version of the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of New Jersey (A4554/S2997) — or the NJ Voting Rights Act (NJVRA) — would protect voters of color and strengthen our democracy by reducing barriers to voting, increasing language access and assistance, prohibiting deceptive practices at the polls, and ensuring that communities of color have their voices heard at the ballot box.
Specifically, a strong NJVRA would:
- Require a "preclearance" program that makes local governments with a history of discrimination prove that certain changes they make to the voting process will not harm voters of color before those changes can go into effect
- Provide new legal tools to fight discriminatory voting rules and procedures in court
- Expand language assistance for voters with limited English proficiency
- Include strong protections against voter intimidation, deception, and obstruction at the polls
- Instruct state judges to interpret election laws in a pro-voter way whenever possible
- Create a central database for election data and demographic information that will empower officials and communities to ensure accessible elections
Establishing Same-Day Voter Registration (passing A1966/S247)
Currently, to cast a ballot in New Jersey, voters must register at least 21 days before an election. This arbitrary restriction prevents thousands of qualified New Jerseyans from making their voices heard in our democracy.
Same-day registration eliminates the need for advance registration by permitting an eligible voter to register and cast a ballot at the same time on Election Day or during an early voting period. Thanks to modern election infrastructure and technology, it’s possible to process a person’s registration and ballot simultaneously without sacrificing security. By combining registration and voting, same-day registration streamlines the voting process, eases the burden on voters, and increases voter participation.
Passing A1966/S247 would:
- Eliminate the unnecessary and outdated three-week voter registration deadline, while preserving the same eligibility requirements and safeguards that are currently in place to ensure the integrity of our elections;
- Increase voter participation, especially among young voters and voters of color, who are disproportionally impacted by the arbitrary voter registration deadline;
- Prevent individuals from losing their vote due to system errors that often impede pre-election efforts to register;
- Bring New Jersey elections into the 21st Century along with the 22 other states and Washington D.C. that have enacted same-day voter registration.
Ending Police Intimidation at the Polls (opposing 2131/S2912)
Because of racism in law enforcement and the broader criminal legal system, criminalization of the ballot box disproportionately impacts people of color and newly enfranchised voters who are more likely to be penalized. This method of voter suppression aims to instill fear in communities of color and suppress their voices in the democratic process.
Know Your Rights
Before you step into the polling booth, make sure you know your rights. Read and share our guide to your voting rights in New Jersey.