By Sarah Blaine
I was born and raised in New Jersey. Many years ago I moved to Maine where my college roommate lived. Shortly after this decision, I learned that Maine was holding a special election in a ballot referendum asking voters whether Maine should rescind the newly enacted protections for LBGTQ + people. Because I grew up in New Jersey, I expressed to a friend how upset I was that I missed the voter registration deadline for this election. To my surprise, I learned that with proof of identity and my new residence, I could actually register and vote – all at my polling station on polling day!
It’s now more than 20 years since I first learned about the sensible electoral reform of same-day voter registration – and 20 years since I came home to New Jersey, like a salmon swimming at home. to spawn. My oldest daughter, who was born a few years after I returned to New Jersey, is now less than a year from the franchise.
Yet his likelihood of voting is artificially lower given that New Jersey has yet to join 20 other states, including Wyoming, Wisconsin, and New Mexico, in implementing this common sense modernization of our processes. electoral. Same-day voter registration is secure, user-friendly and, combined with New Jersey’s new electronic registers, an important step we can take to ensure our voters lists are as accurate and up-to-date as possible.
Same-day voter registration also results in a 10% increase in voter turnout among 18-24 year olds, and we know that once established, voting is likely to become a habit. As a mom, I would like us to make it as easy as possible for our teenagers to get into the habit of voting, especially given the adversity they have been through over the past two years.
These are just some of the reasons the New Jersey Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism (RAC-NJ) is working with our partners in the Democracy in a Day coalition, led by the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and the League of Women Voters of New Jersey. , to urge our lawmakers to enact A4548 / S2824, the same-day voter registration bill.
During the recent launch of our campaign to enact the bill, we heard from a new resident of New Jersey who moved here to be near his first grandchild and, although he previously served as a lawyer for the protection of elections in New Hampshire, found himself deprived of his right to vote. November 2 before the arbitrary registration deadline for New Jersey voters. Likewise, the Rutgers students said they watched their friends’ faces drop when they found out they missed the deadline to register to vote in this month’s gubernatorial election. this.
As a poll worker on November 2, because their names did not appear in the electronic poll books, I had to explain to voters in my own constituency, including an 18-year-old high school student who told me in detail to have registered to vote at school, and a young man recently returned from a deployment overseas as a member of our military, that they should vote using provisional ballots. I can only hope that these voters – and others like them – were in fact registered on time despite their names not showing up in the electronic registers so that their provisional ballots could ultimately be counted.
From across New Jersey, hundreds of members of our 44 Union of Reform Judaism congregations are coming together to urge our lawmakers to pass this bill through the Legislature before the Lame Ducks session ends. . Passing this bill now will also ensure that our election officials have enough time to train frontline poll workers like myself to implement same-day voter registration.
Sarah Blaine is the main organizer of the New Jersey Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism (RAC-NJ).
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