Phil Murphy signs legislation expanding early voting in NJ

Phil Murphy signs legislation expanding early voting in NJ
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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed legislation into law Tuesday requiring in-person early voting in the state while knocking recent legislative efforts seen in his state and others that he said would restrict voting rights.

Murphy signed the bill during an event on Tuesday afternoon, where he was joined by state legislators and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams (D), who has seen widespread attention in recent months for her efforts to mobilize voters in the Peach State after it flipped blue in the presidential election and January Senate runoff races.

“Today, I don’t say this lightly, New Jersey reminds the nation that our democracy is made stronger when we make it easier for the people’s voices to be heard, that our democracy wins when we open the doors of our polling places wide, instead of slamming them shut,” Murphy said during the virtual event.

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“The law that I’m signing in a few minutes today allowing in person machine voting at our regular polling places will enhance our residents right to vote,” he said.

The legislation passed the state Senate overwhelmingly on Thursday, according to local media. The passage came the same day Georgia Gov. Brian KempBrian KempRepublican politicians: Let OSHA do its job Dozens of Republican governors call for meeting with Biden on border surge President Biden's vaccination plan is constitutional — and necessary MORE (R) signed an elections bill into law that seeks to bar anyone other than poll workers from giving food or water to voters waiting in long lines to cast their ballot.

The measure signed by Kemp, which has already been met with a growing list of legal challenges from advocacy groups, would also add more identification requirements for people to be able to vote absentee in the state after it saw record absentee voting in the past presidential election, which it handed to President BidenJoe BidenUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Schumer moves to break GOP blockade on Biden's State picks GOP Rep. Cawthorn likens vaccine mandates to 'modern-day segregation' MORE.

The timing of the bill’s passage was not lost on Murphy, who highlighted the contrast between the measures during the event Tuesday. 

“I cannot overlook that this early voting bill passed our legislature the same day the governor of Georgia was signing a law restricting the rights of Georgians to vote, even making it a crime to give a voter in line a bottle of water,” Murphy said. 

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“It is incredulous that the response to those who claim that last year’s presidential election was rigged against all evidence of the contrary are now doing their damnedest to openly and unapologetically to rig elections by surpressing voter rights,” he continued.

“They couldn’t prove the big lie in any court of law, so instead they’re writing the big lie into law,” he added, referring to unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud that former President TrumpDonald TrumpUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Trump sues NYT, Mary Trump over story on tax history McConnell, Shelby offer government funding bill without debt ceiling MORE and other Republicans spread for months after his defeat in presidential election. 

The law recently passed in Georgia was one of a series of elections bills filed or advanced in recent months that include provisions that would limit voter access. 

Republicans have claimed the legislation is needed to boost election security and public trust in Georgia’s elections. Democrats and voting rights advocates have argued the legislation would make it harder for people, especially those of color.

“They claim to love our constitution but only if they get to define who the ‘we’ is in we the people,” Murphy said.

“Amazingly, right here, some members of the New Jersey legislature have introduced bills to restrict the voting rights of our residents,” he added. “Let me be perfectly clear, through the work of everyone here among so many others, these bills will go nowhere, except into the nearest recycling can.”