Recognizing that modern Americans' lives are hectic and that civic participation levels are inadequate, most states have adopted early-voting measures that help people fit in-person voting into their busy schedules. But Gov. Christie is pretending that people in New Jersey don't have to pack the kids off to school, go to work, fix dinner, do chores around the house, and then try to find the time to vote. He recently vetoed a bill that would have allowed them to cast ballots in person at a limited number of polling places for the two weeks leading up to Election Day.
But Christie couldn't come up with a good reason for his veto, so he winged it. His veto message asserted that the state has actually had early voting since 2009. He was referring to the "no excuse" absentee ballots that allow voters to participate by mail at will. That's a good thing, but it's not the same as early voting, which allows voting at polling places before Election Day.
The governor may have been confused. Or he may have been making a deliberately misleading argument.
In any case, the National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracks state legislation, makes a distinction between the two kinds of convenience voting. And according to the conference, all but six of the 32 states that allow early voting also offer no-excuse absentee ballots. In other words, officials in those states felt there was enough of a difference between the two to make both available. They also might have felt that voters deserve every opportunity to make their voices heard.
Christie may not feel that way. He argued that early voting costs too much, citing an Office of Legislative Services estimate that it would take $25 million to gear up. (Never mind that he didn't believe the OLS when it noted, correctly as it turned out, that his budget was overstating projected revenues.) But a state with a $33 billion budget should be willing to pay such a relatively small price to increase participation.
The Keystone State, meanwhile, doesn't offer no-excuse absentee ballots or early voting. But it does have a voter-hostile photo-ID law. Such measures have been proven to discourage the young, old, and poor from casting ballots.
Christie's veto of early voting is in the same spirit of pointless disenfranchisement. The bill at hand was passed along party lines by the Democratic-controlled Legislature, but the governor's veto could be overridden if some Republicans find the courage to side with the voters.