Legislation Would Expand Ballot Access, Toughen Campaign Finance Rules
For Immediate Release: February 24, 2021
Office of The Attorney General
– Gurbir S. Grewal, Attorney General
For Further Information:
TRENTON — Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced today that New Jersey has joined a coalition of states calling on Congress to pass a bill that would strengthen American democracy by modernizing voter registration, stiffening penalties for voter intimidation, and closing loopholes to reduce the influence of wealthy “dark-money” political donors, among other election-related and governmental ethics measures.
The coalition of 20 states and the District of Columbia issued a letter to leaders of both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives urging that the bill, called the For the People Act of 2021, be passed swiftly. Designed to encourage public confidence and participation in the democratic process, the sweeping legislation would expand access to the ballot by requiring states to implement online voter registration and banning arbitrary purges of voting rolls. It would also require states to establish automatic voter registration for eligible residents.
The Act dovetails with New Jersey’s own voter reform initiatives, including new legislation signed into law by Governor Phil Murphy in January which provides for online voter registration and requires that incarcerated persons from New Jersey be counted at their residential addresses for redistricting purposes, among other things.
“Voting is the bedrock of our democracy. Here in New Jersey, we take seriously our responsibility to make sure that voting processes are fair and inclusive, and that all eligible voters’ rights are protected,” said Attorney General Grewal. “We need the reforms contained in this legislation to protect the integrity of our federal elections, and we need them as soon as possible.”
The For the People Act would further expand access to voting by allowing voters to cast their ballots at least 15 days prior to Election Day and permitting all eligible voters to vote by mail. It would also neutralize discriminatory voter identification laws by requiring states to accept sworn statements from voters to satisfy voter ID requirements, and combat partisan gerrymandering—which has been used to minimize the political power of minority votes—by charging independent commissions with the task of redistricting. Additionally, the Act would close dark-money loopholes by requiring disclosure when donors contribute $10,000 or more to a group that spends money on elections.
The legislation would also close gaps in ethics laws governing members of Congress, including by prohibiting members of Congress from serving on boards of directors of for-profit entities during their terms and, for the first time, requiring the Judicial Conference to develop a code of ethics applicable to Supreme Court justices.
Today’s letter is not the first time Attorney General Grewal has taken action to protect the integrity of federal elections. In 2019, New Jersey successfully sued the Trump-era Internal Revenue Service and Department of Treasury over its abandonment of a long-standing policy requiring dark money groups and other non-profit organizations to report information about their major donors to the federal government. And in 2020, Attorney General Grewal joined the New York Attorney General in suing to block operational changes at the U.S. Postal Service that threatened to disrupt mail-in voting ahead of the November presidential election.