The state depends on the public’s honesty when it automatically registers to vote anyone applying for a driver’s license or non-driver identification card through the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission.
“Prospective New Jersey voters must verify that they are U.S. citizens and eligible to vote prior to NJ MVC transmitting their voter registration to the Division of Elections,” said Department of State spokeswoman Trudi Gilfillian in an emailed response to questions.
That is also the case when someone registers by any other method, said Elizabeth Matto, associate research professor at the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University.
But it is backed up with an identification requirement.
Automatic voter registration is now a reality at motor vehicle agencies throughout New Jerse…
Voter registration forms require people to either provide their full driver’s license number or the last four digits of their Social Security number, said Matto.
If people cannot provide either number, they must supply identification when they show up to vote the first time, Matto said.
Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill into law in April requiring automatic registration be available by Nov. 1, and the MVC had the new system up and running on time.
While undocumented people cannot get licenses or ID cards under current law — there are bills pending in the Legislature that would allow them to get special licenses — those who are documented with a legal right to be here can get them. Citizenship is not required.
People have been able to register to vote when applying for driver’s licenses since the early 1990s, when New Jersey law changed in response to federal law.
Until November, however, people had to opt in to register, said Gilfillian.
“The only thing that changed was automatically getting registered unless you opt out. The transmission of data from MVC to counties was unchanged,” Gilfillian said.
Gilfillian said providing false information to the MVC to register to vote is punishable under the law.
“Any false or fraudulent information may subject those convicted to a fine of up to $15,000 or imprisonment up to five years, or both,” she said. “Individuals must acknowledge on the signature pad that they have received this warning.”
She said signatures and voter registration information are sent to the counties daily from the MVC via the Statewide Voter Registration System.
“The process is automated. Each county sees new voter registrations from MVC when they log into SVRS,” Gilfillian said.
To find out if you are registered to vote, search the Department of State’s NJ Voter Information Page.