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.
On June 30th New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine signed the Vote by Mail Law of 2008,
which allows all voters to permanently register to vote-by-mail,
referred to as permanent absentee voting. The law, sponsored by Senator
Raymond Lesniak and Assemblywoman Joan Quigley, also replaces New
Jersey's multiple absentee voting systems with one streamlined system
for all mail-in voters.
Overall, federal recovery spending is working as intended, helping states provide needed services and avoid layoffs that would be worsening unemployment rates. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
estimates that these funds are providing states with 40 percent of what
is needed to help their budgets in balance over the next few fiscal
years. The recovery plan has provided states with flexibility in
addressing key programs and priorities. Unfortunately, a number of states have wasted budget funds on trying to steal jobs from one another, as highlighted by Good Jobs First.
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.
This week, the New Jersey legislature approved permanent absentee voting legislation [A 2451 by Rep. Joan Quigley and Sen. Raymond Lesniak] after minor reconciliation and scheduling delays kept the bill in a holding pattern for half a year.