John Currie is unopposed for re-election on Saturday, but Democratic State Committee members will still need to show photo identification in order to cast their vote.
The new policy appears to contradict national Democratic Party opposition to photo ID laws that they say just seeks to suppress low-income and minority voters.
New Jersey does not require voters to show identification at their polling locations.
The titular head of the New Jersey Democratic Party, Gov. Phil Murphy, railed against Republican efforts to disenfranchise voters when he ran in 2017.
As the new chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, Murphy announced a national initiative in December aimed at fighting attempts by Republicans to disenfranchise voters.
“I don’t think we have, per se, voter suppression like you see it in Republican-controlled states,” Murphy said on a conference call with former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who is leading a national organization to fight voter suppression.
This is the first time the state party has required photo identification of its members, who are elected in countywide elections every four years, two longtime party officials confirmed.
Officially, the state committee had no comment on their change in policy.
There is no indication that voter fraud is expected on Saturday, where Currie is running unopposed for re-election. Most state committee members have been in office for years – many are hugely visible party leaders – yet they will now need to prove their identities.
Republican State Chairman Doug Steinhardt criticized Democrats for their hypocrisy.
“Democrat politicians are constantly holding one standard for themselves and preaching another for everyone else,” said Steinhardt. “Whether it’s Phil Murphy claiming to want women to feel safe in the workplace but putting a gag order on his campaign staff, or his state party’s hypocrisy on voter ID laws, it’s impossible to trust that they are really looking out for what’s best for New Jersey.”
Republican State Committee members are not required to show their ID before voting in GOP State Chairman races.
Currie is also eliminating proxy voting for state committee members unable to attend their meeting, even though the party’s by-laws specifically allow it.
One of the issues during the now-resolved fight over the state chairmanship between Currie and Essex County Democratic Chairman LeRoy Jones, Jr. was over proxies.
The use of proxy voting was considered beneficial to Jones, who had support in South Jersey.
A spokesman for Currie said that proxies can still be used to conduct party business, but not for the election of officers.
“The procedures being used at this Saturday’s meeting are in accordance with state law and the party’s bylaws,” said Phil Swibinski.
Proxy voting was used to elect officers in Currie’s last two state chairman races.