Christie tries to rig the system by vetoing motor-voter bill | Editorial

By Star-Ledger Editorial Board
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on August 24, 2016

When you apply for or renew a driver's license in New Jersey, you need at least a few of the following: a birth certificate, a passport, an old license with a photo, a credit card bill, a social security card, or a bank statement.

From this process, the MVC gets an accurate profile -- who you are, where you come from, and how long you've been around -- which means the State of New Jersey can easily tell whether you are authorized to vote.

Gov. Christie, however, pretends otherwise, so he vetoed a bill last week that would automatically register voters who are renewing or applying for a driver's license.

He said it should be called the "Voter Fraud Enhancement and Permission Act," which crackles with edgy sarcasm but doesn't support his point, but this is the kind of witticism you expect from the fellow who was moving the cones around.

He claims that the bill "would register individuals simply by virtue of engaging in a transaction with MVC," which is hardly the case, and nowhere in his 1,400-word veto does he explain how such fraud might occur -- probably because fraud exists mostly in the mind of all Donald Trump acolytes, as every reputable study makes clear.

Christie also dismissed the need for expanding access by stating that "92 percent" of eligible voters are already registered. But the academic whose research produced that number, Dr. Michael McDonald of the University of Florida, says New Jersey's voter registration is closer to 81 percent because the governor didn't factor in "deadwood files," the voters who left or died but haven't been purged from the rolls.

So the question is this: If 1 in 5 eligible voters isn't registered, why not fix it?

The whole truth is that Christie is hiding his motive. This is not the act of a fraud-phobic watchdog, but the desperate act of an ideologue whose party is starting to see the last days of Pompeii.

Republicans' refusal to acknowledge the new majority coalition is political suicide: Racial minorities, unmarried women, millennials and seculars now represent 63 percent of the electorate, pollster Stanley Greenberg says, which is a substantial jump from the 51 percent in 2012. Democrats win each group by a 2-to-1 margin.

The only way to withstand the pending avalanche is to marginalize some of these voters where possible, which forces Christie and his like to use pointless bile and suppression to mask political cowardice.

Like other GOP leaders, our governor is hatched from the nest of Paul Weyrich, the founder of the conservative movement (Heritage Foundation, Moral Majority, etc.), who three decades ago declared "our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down." Measures to hamstring democracy have been a Republican hallmark ever since.

It will ultimately fail, however, because you can't change the electorate; and the arbiters of history will mark Christie as an alarmist messenger who was ultimately steamrolled by an electoral tide.

Of all the ways Republicans use voter suppression to influence elections – gerrymandering districts, voter ID laws, purging rolls, shorting voter periods, preventing ex-cons from voting – this is especially odious, because MVC already makes you jump through hoops to prove that you are who you say you are. The only fraud here is the governor's brand of politics.

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