Gov. Christie's Chance to Do Right by Voters

From The New York Times

By The Editorial Board

As he roams far from New Jersey hugging voters in his quest for the White House, Gov. Chris Christie has a golden opportunity to demonstrate his faith in the people — yes, the people — by signing a groundbreaking voter registration bill passed last month by the state Legislature. It would make New Jersey a national leader by establishing automatic voter enrollment at the state Motor Vehicle Commission, encouraging early voting opportunities and expanding multilanguage election materials.

The measure has everything to recommend it as a boon for democracy. Yet Mr. Christie, once the champion of expansive bipartisan politicking, has attacked the new measure, called the “Democracy Act,” as a partisan move “to increase the opportunity for voter fraud.” He insisted, “There’s much more politics behind this than there is democracy,” and strongly hinted at a veto.

“Voter fraud” has become the standard canard used by Republican statehouses to push through regressive laws to hinder the voting rights of minorities. Various studies have shown voter fraud to be a myth. That Mr. Christie would raise this specious charge is an insult to his constituents. It’s also a sorry measure of his willingness to mouth right-wing Republican dogma in pandering on the campaign trail for his party’s presidential nomination.

The measure was introduced by the New Jersey lawmakers after the turnout in last year’s midterm elections was 30.4 percent, the lowest in state history and among the nation’s worst. New Jersey would join Oregon, which was first earlier this year to move to automatic voter registration through its motor vehicle department. The legislation would further encourage turnout by establishing two weeks of in-person early voting and online services so voters can register and update their information.

These positive reforms obviously encourage voting, not ballot fraud. Mr. Christie should put aside his cynical bombast and sign the measure. Right now, as he works the hustings, he should be supporting efforts to make elections fairer and more inviting, not standing in the way.


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