With the stroke of a pen allowing early in-person voting in New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy sent a clear message to Republican officials in Georgia and other states who are actively working to essentially make it more difficult to vote.
The new law expands in-person early voting across the Garden State – which is a traditional Democratic stronghold in national elections. It’s effective for November’s general election.
Each of New Jersey’s 21 counties will be required to open up several early voting locations, as early as 10 days before the general election. The law also includes early voting for the 2022 primary elections.
“New Jersey reminds the nation that our democracy is made stronger when we make it easier for the people’s voices to be heard,” Murphy said.
It’s an utterly intentional contrast to what’s happening in Georgia – where it is now a crime to offer someone water who’s standing in line to vote.
But that’s not how Georgia Governor Brian Kemp recently explained it
“With Senate Bill 202, Georgia will take another step toward ensuring out elections are secure, accessible and fair,” Kemp said.
Henel Patel, director of the Democracy and Justice Program at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, said Georgia’s voting laws are not based in reality.
“All of these claims of voter fraud, of issues with the election that we heard last year that were made up, conspiracies that were made up, are now being used as pretext to roll back voting rights,” Patel said. “This isn’t new in American history.”
Democrat Stacy Abrams, widely viewed as the architect of the Democrats’ victories in November’s election, joined Tuesday’s announcement.
“We are going to lose some of the elections we want to win and we are going to win some of the elections we never thought could be true,” Abrams said. “But we are always, always stronger as a nation when every voice is included.”
Not everyone in New Jersey celebrated the change.
Republican Hunterdon County Clerk Mary Melfi – who is also the non-partisan legislative liaison for all of New Jersey’s county clerks, insists there are fundamental issues with the new law.
“It’s just a little bit too rushed and there’s going to be problems with it,” Melfi said. “When I say problems, from an implementation standpoint, we’re concerned about getting co-workes trained. We’re concerned about educating voters. We’re concerned about the procurement of equipment and how quickly you can get that equipment.”
John Donnadio, executive director of the New Jersey Association of Counties, said the law was passed without a plan to pay for it.
“We’re projecting that it could cost, just for the initial capital expenditures, about $77 million – that includes voting machines, e-poll books, other software just to get the system up and running,” Donnadio said.