At first glance, one would think a calamity struck New Jersey in March. According to the Secretary of State’s monthly voter registration statistics, the state lost a whopping 180,000 voters over the course of the month, falling from 6,603,125 to 6,422,136.
But the drastic change isn’t because of a mass voter exodus; rather, it represents a streamlining of the state’s method for collecting voter statistics.
Prior to this month, the state’s 21 counties could each have different days on which they reported their voter totals, but they’re now required to all do so on the same day, standardizing data collection across the state. Some counties that had failed to properly maintain and cull their voter rolls did so when the statewide system was standardized.
“For voters in inactive status, counties had typically conducted list maintenance as required pursuant to their own independent schedules, but because the state is moving toward a more uniform schedule, all lists were updated in March, so the difference was more apparent than it would have been in the past,” Secretary of State spokesperson Alicia D’Alessandro said. “We expect that the numbers will look less inconsistent moving forward.”
Overall, the state has 2,508,895 Democrats, 1,486,005 Republicans, and 2,346,083 unaffiliated voters.
That means the state’s voters are 39.1% Democrats, 23.1% Republicans, and 36.5% unaffiliateds, which in theory represents an increase for both Democrats and Republicans from last month. A direct comparison isn’t really possible, though, since it’s not clear what’s due to genuine changes in the rolls and what was caused by the overall recalibration.