Perhaps the most impressive recent success story in expanding political
participation has been the dramatic turnaround in public agency voter
registrations in some states. With the prodding of Demos, Project Vote, and others under the umbrella of the NVRA Project,
several states have reinvigorated compliance with this federal law that
requires that certain state agencies offer voter registration to the
individuals they serve. The most well known agencies are motor vehicle
departments, but public assistance agencies are also included and it is
they that can have the greatest impact on bringing low-income and
marginalized citizens into the political process.
Yesterday, Governor Corzine signed A 2451, the Vote by Mail Law of
2008, bringing New Jersey's absentee voting procedures decisively into
the 21st Century. The law, sponsored by Senator Raymond Lesniak and
Assemblywoman Joan Quigley, replaces New Jersey's multiple absentee
voting systems with one streamlined system for use by all voters. In
addition the law now gives voters the option of permanently voting by
mail, as is available in Colorado, California, Montana and Washington.
Under this option voters could apply once to receive either a ballot in
every election for the next year or receive ballots indefinitely for
all general elections.