Sen. Weinberg: Allowing Online Voter Registration Would Increase Turnout

Voter turnout in New Jersey seems to keep getting lower by the election. Is it a question of apathy or the need to register more voters? State Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg has sponsored a bill for online voter registration. Weinberg told NJTV News Correspondent Michael Hill that allowing residents to go online to register to vote will increase participation.

Weinberg said currently residents have to go to the municipal clerk or county offices and fill out registration forms. “It goes through a big, long paper trail and since we have online for your driver’s license renewal, to buy a piece of furniture or a big TV set or whatever you want, seems to me we can get the technology online so that you can register to vote in exactly that way,” she said.

She wrote an op ed with Sen. Cory Booker about the subject. Weinberg said the bill needs to be passed in the Legislature. She said online registration could be done through the Motor Vehicle Commission or any other technology the state chooses to use. “It has support from the superintendents of elections, various people who are in the bureaucracy of taking care of voter registration and I’d like to see it moved pretty quickly,” she said.

Weinberg believes online voter registration will increase turnout. “Younger generations are used to doing everything online,” she said. “So certainly I think voter registration online is a much more natural inclination for them, something that they’re more naturally used to using. And I would like to see it done here.”

Many other states offer online voter registration, according to Weinberg. She said New Jersey is a little far behind in that area.

Some people are concerned about fraud that could come with registering to vote online. While Weinberg admits that people can find ways around any system that’s developed, she pointed out that tampering with voter registration is illegal. “When they get found out — and they usually do — they are subject to whatever the law requires. So you know people break into banks even though we have big safe deposit boxes. I use that analogy,” she said. “Hopefully the system can be designed to make sure that doesn’t happen, but if it does, law enforcement will deal with it.”

Weinberg believes the measure has support in the Assembly. She also said having Booker’s support is a great help.

Weinberg is also sponsoring a bill in the Senate that would keep guns away from domestic violence offenders. An Assembly committee discussed the legislation today. She said New Jersey needs such a law on the books to help protect domestic violence victims.

“There are loopholes in the law in terms of somebody who has a restraining order when and how a gun that might be owned by that same person or kept in the house is removed,” Weinberg said. “More people are injured — more women in particular — by a domestic partner in the home than are injured anyplace else by some outsider breaking into the home. So I think where there is domestic violence, where somebody has acted out on a partner in a violent manner, it is incumbent upon us to make sure that that person does not have access to a gun. If afterwards the case is adjudicated or somebody’s found innocent, then we’ll deal with returning the gun.”