New Jersey poised to expand voter access as other states impose limits

Trenton, New Jersey – As Georgia clamps down on voter access, New Jersey is seeking to remove some of the barriers to participation.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy called efforts to restrict voter access "un-American" (collage).
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy called efforts to restrict voter access "un-American" (collage).  © Collage: 123RF/bizoon, Screenshot/Facebook/Governor Phil Murphy

Democratic Governor Philip D. Murphy is set to sign a bill that would allow for in-person early voting in New Jersey, the New York Times reported.

For the November 2 election, there will be nine days of in-person early voting, including two weekends. Counties will be required to operate between three and seven polling places.

The early voting period for primaries will not be quite as long.

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"Across our nation, there is a concerted effort to limit access to the ballot box among eligible voters," the governor said. "Those efforts are un-American and fly in the face of the principles that generations of Americans, from soldiers to civil rights activists, have fought for and in many cases given their lives to defend."

While many are praising the new measures, some say the state isn't going far enough. According to Politico, New Jersey is the only state to organize its ballots along the "county line" or "party line." This means that 19 of the state's 21 counties give the primary spots on their ballots to candidates endorsed by the Republican or Democratic Party, relegating other candidates to further columns.

In an analysis of this ballot organization method, Rutgers University Professor Julia Sass Rubin argues that county line ballots provide huge advantages to party-endorsed candidates.

Sass Rubin concluded, "Any expansion of the voting process is great. But we have a cancer at the heart of our democracy right now with the county line ballot."

New Jersey stands in contrast to Republican-led states

Georgians staged a protest in support of Park Cannon as they waited for her to return to the State Capitol for the first time since her arrest.
Georgians staged a protest in support of Park Cannon as they waited for her to return to the State Capitol for the first time since her arrest.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

New Jersey's expansion measures stand in sharp contrast to recent developments in Georgia, the first major battleground state to enact measures limiting voter access since the 2020 presidential election.

The law requires new voter ID for absentee ballots, limits drop boxes, and shortens run-offs. It also prohibits people from delivering food and water to voters waiting in line at polling places.

The legislation, which would disproportionately affect people of color, sparked a wave of outrage across Georgia.

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The tensions came to a head when Park Cannon, a state representative, was arrested after knocking on Republican Governor Brian Kemp's office door as he signed the bill into law.

But Georgia is by no means the only state threatening to limit voter access. Other Republican-led states, including Arizona, Florida, and Texas, want to follow suit.

It remains to be seen whether the For the People Act will pass in the Senate. The bill aims to establish federal protections that would override restrictive state voting laws.

Cover photo: Collage: 123RF/bizoon, Screenshot/Facebook/Governor Phil Murphy

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