Today I would like to focus on one topic, expanding access for voters in New Jersey, an issue I have fought for during my career in public service. This is of particular importance now, since the US Supreme Court is currently debating the legality of the landmark Voting Rights Act, placing over 45 years of Civil Rights progress in jeopardy. Thanks and I looking forward to posting in the future.
In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama stood before the country and called for voting reform. In doing so, the president spoke of the problems that plagued the nation’s voting system on Election Day 2012, including lines that snaked around the block at polling places in states like Florida, where a 102-year-old woman was told she would have to wait six hours before casting her vote.
The truth is, there are few rights that are more important than a citizen’s participation in democracy.
We witness this right in nations throughout the world where women and men proudly hold up their blue-dyed fingers to show that they have cast their ballots, and it’s demonstrated right here in the United States – and in New Jersey – where we leave the polls proudly wearing buttons on our lapels displaying the words, “I voted.”
In New Jersey, we also experienced challenges on Election Day, but ours stemmed from problems caused by a natural disaster.
Across the state – polling places were moved, and for the first time in our history a process was implemented to allow displaced voters to cast their ballots by email and fax . It is imperative that we take action to improve our voting process.
If we can travel around the world to promote democracy and the right to vote, we must be willing to invest in the infrastructure here, at home, to make sure that we have the most effective, efficient and secure voting process possible. New Jersey must take steps to expand voter access and to safeguard our election system.
That is why I am sponsoring legislation to establish statewide early voting that would give residents the ability to vote in person prior to Election Day and provide greater voter access.
Early voting would ensure that even in an emergency, such as a natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy, or in the case of an unforeseen personal scheduling conflict, residents will still be able to get to the polls and exercise their fundamental right to vote.
In fact, two-thirds of the states and the District of Columbia offer some sort of early voting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.