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April 12, 2018
Republican Leaders Join Together to Combat Automatic Voter Registration Bill

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Given the potential impact on New Jersey taxpayers and the dangers of voter fraud, Republican Legislative leaders today took action to combat legislation that would mandate automatic voter registration at state agencies across New Jersey.

Sen. Republican Leader Tom Kean, Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick, Sen. Kristin Corrado, Sen. Sam Thompson, and Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso are taking action to combat legislation that would mandate automatic voter registration at a wide array of state agencies. (SenateNJ.com)

Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean, Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick, Senator Kristin Corrado – a former Passaic County Clerk, and Senator Sam Thompson held a joint press conference to shed light on the pitfalls of the legislation. Both the Assembly and Senate versions of the bill passed the Legislature on Thursday afternoon, despite attempts by Republicans in both houses to amend the bill on the floor.

“There is no question that we need to keep a watchful eye on government spending. It’s time to stop using the people of New Jersey as a piggy bank. Democrat or Republican, that is something that every elected official in New Jersey should be able to agree on,” Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean (R-21) said. “The vast majority of New Jersey residents are already registered to vote, so this legislation is a completely unnecessary expense. We will not stand by and allow politicians to play political games with taxpayer money. ”

“Billion dollar Phil Murphy is now going to spend millions of taxpayer money registering people to vote who have not asked to register,” Bramnick (R-21) said.  “They also want to give licenses to everyone whether they are here legally or illegally.  That means someone who is here illegally will be automatically registered to vote and will have to opt out.  This is what happens when you have a tax and spend governor – you look for another reason to spend money.  I think it’s a mistake.”

The original versions of S-481 and A-2014, as introduced by Democrats this session,  would have automatically registered potentially eligible voters any time they visit a motor vehicle office, unless they opt out.

A last-minute committee amendment on Thursday, April 5 changed the bill drastically, by expanding the scope of locations to include a wide array of state agencies that would be required to engage in automatic voter registration, including parole  offices.

The expansive change, which was reportedly pushed by a special interest group with ties to Democratic politics, was introduced right before legislative budget committees were about to vote on the bill.

Up to 92 percent of eligible voters in New Jersey are already registered to vote, according to the U.S. Census and the state Division of Elections.

At today’s press conference, Senator Corrado (R-40) discussed how the current version of this legislation could lead to an increase in voter fraud.

“During my time as the Passaic County Clerk, I saw multiple major cases of voter fraud. There is no denying that this is a real problem in New Jersey,” Senator Corrado (R-40) said. “I am very concerned that mandating automatic voter registration without safeguards or penalties for the bad actors will compromise the integrity of future elections. We cannot allow that to happen.”

Shortly before the Senate voted on the bill, Senator Sam Thompson proposed floor amendments to S481/651 ScsSca to ensure that the legislation would be in the best interest of New Jersey voters and taxpayers. Unfortunately, Senator Thompson’s attempt to amend the bill was blocked by Senate Democrats.

Senator Sam Thompson’s proposed amendments to the automatic voter registration bill, as detailed on the Senate floor, would have addressed several issues with the legislation. The first amendment would have increased voter fraud to a second degree crime. The second amendment would tackle the ballooning cost of this legislation, by eliminating the other state agencies that were added by the last-minute amendment pushed through the Budget Committee last week. Finally, the third amendment would add explicit language to the legislation that would require potentially eligible voters to acknowledge that they are in fact eligible to vote.

“There is no question in my mind that unless we take action, this legislation will lead to an increase in voter fraud,” Senator Thompson (R-12) said. “We have several high profile elections ahead of us. If Legislative Democrats are going to insist on enacting automatic voter registration, then they should at least take steps to ensure that every vote is worthy of being counted. I am disappointed that they failed to heed our warnings today. I hope they will reconsider before this terrible bill becomes law.”

Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso also made an attempt to amend the Assembly version of the bill, A-2014.  That attempt was blocked by Assembly Democrats with a 53-23 vote.

“This legislation will simply flood the secretary of state and county offices with applications for people already registered to vote,” DiMaso (R-13) said on the Assembly floor.  “Why?  Because 90 percent of New Jerseyans are already registered, and each one of those applications will have to be updated in addition to the new voter applications.”