New Jersey had 6,525,443 voters at the end of February, 6,520 less than it did a month ago – a drop entirely attributable to a loss of 12,430 voters in Morris County.
According to Morris County Board of Elections administrator Dale Kramer, the reduction came because the county conducted a purge of inactive, deceased, and duplicate voters last month.
Of the 12,430 voters Morris County lost, approximately 8,000 were unaffiliated voters, while Democrats and Republicans each lost around 2,000 voters. Each party likely lost more than that in the purge, but also gained some voters registering to vote for the first time.
Voter roll purges are something that counties across the state have to do from time to time, though it’s relatively unusual for one county to do independently of the other 20. Last March, the state lost 180,000 voters thanks to a statewide voter roll cleanup effort, and there are still close to 500,000 inactive voter registrations left.
Similar county-by-county voter roll reductions may be coming in the near future thanks to the Electronic Registration Information Center, or ERIC, a voter roll maintenance organization which New Jersey recently joined as a participant. (The Morris County drop, however, was unrelated to ERIC.)
Earlier this year, Morris County’s Mendham Township hosted a contentious court hearing over a three-vote Democratic election victory that Republicans argued should be invalidated because of a number of voters who no longer lived full-time in Mendham. After ending the case voluntarily, Republicans indicated they’d look into further investigating the allegedly ineligible voters; Kramer said today, however, that the recent registration cleanup had nothing to do with the Mendham case.
Not including Morris County, New Jersey added 5,910 voters overall in February. Democrats lost 1,214 voters, Republicans gained 1,015, and unaffiliateds – who in recent years have consistently made up most new registrations – gained 6,148.
Over the course of March, New Jersey Democrats are likely to lose the 1 million-voter edge that they’ve held over Republicans for years. Democrats currently have 2,530,513 voters and Republicans have 1,530,147; assuming trends remain similar and there aren’t any further voter roll purges, Republicans should break the million-voter advantage in the coming weeks.
This story was updated at 1:19 p.m. with more details about Morris County’s registration drop, and again at 6:31 p.m. to remove a reference to officials who do not oversee voter registration.