State Watch

NJ governor calls for expansion of voting rights

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) on Tuesday used his State of the State address to call for expanding voting rights to younger residents and felons.

“Let’s open the doors to our democracy even wider,” he said. “Let’s work together to allow residents to register to vote online and at the polls on Election Day. Let’s enact true early, in-person voting for our residents. Let’s allow 17-year olds to register and vote in our June primaries if they will turn 18 by the November general election.”

{mosads}Murphy also affirmed his commitment to restoring rights to felons.

“Let’s restore voting rights for individuals on probation or parole, so we can further their reentry into society by allowing them to exercise the most sacred right offered by our society — the right to vote,” he said.

Murphy was elected governor in 2017.

During his first year in office, Murphy enacted an Automatic Voter Registration program that his office calls “one of the most expansive in the nation.”

Several other states have made recent moves toward restoring voting rights for felons.

In the 2018 midterm elections, Florida voters approved a measure allowing those convicted of felonies to register to vote.

On Tuesday, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) said she wants to amend the state’s constitution to allow felons the right to vote after serving their sentences.

Iowa and Kentucky are the only states that ban felons from voting even after they have served their sentences.

Maine and Vermont are the only two states that have no restrictions on a felon’s right to vote.

Fourteen states and the District of Columbia automatically restore a felon’s voting rights after they are released. Twenty-two states grant felons the right to vote once they have completed their sentences, including parole.

The remaining states require a waiting period before felons are allowed to reregister, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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