Christie Vetoes Automatic Voter Registration Bill

August 19, 2016

Governor Christie on Thursday vetoed a pair of bills that sponsors said would make it easier to register to vote — for years a Democratic mission that has been rejected by the Republican governor over and over again.

But this time Christie’s rejection of one of those bills featured a denouncement that echoes pronouncements by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, Christie’s personal friend.

Rather than sign a bill that would automatically register voters as part of the driver’s license application and renewal process, Christie conditionally vetoed it and said it should be renamed “The Voter Fraud Enhancement and Permission Act.”

He vetoed a similar measure last November, when it was included in a package of proposals dubbed the “Democracy Act.” At that time, Christie was running for president and wrote that the state “must ensure that every eligible citizen’s vote counts and is not stolen by fraud.” And in 2013, Christie vetoed a Democratic bill to expand early voting.

This time Christie’s language was more forceful and comes amid recent developments of the presidential race where Trump has warned of “rigged” elections and claimed there could be widespread voter fraud. Trump, whose White House transition team Christie leads, has recently begun warning voters that he could lose “if cheating goes on” and, he told The Washington Post, that “if the election was rigged, I would not be surprised.”

Voter fraud is extremely rare, according to many studies, and Christie acknowledged earlier this week that “most people have confidence in the electoral system.”

But he told reporters during a news conference Tuesday that there are concerns for the system’s integrity and said his own state campaigns assumed a certain level of fraud. It was during that same news conference that Christie assured reporters the so-called motor-voter bill would be rejected, calling it a “cocktail for fraud.”

Automatic voter registration like that envisioned in the bill Christie rejected has been approved by five states, most with “strong” bipartisan support, and 29 states overall have considered such measures, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, a law and policy institute at New York University.

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