Newark, N.J. -- The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey and the League of Women Voters of New Jersey will provide assistance to voters as they go to the polls on February 5th to vote in New Jersey's presidential primary.
"New Jersey voters deserve an efficient and accessible election system," said Anne Barron, coordinator of the Election Protection effort. "In light of New Jersey's record of voting rights failures, poll monitoring and advocacy by outside groups is essential."
Trained poll monitors will be on hand to assist voters at many polls and provide volunteer lawyers to help voters who want to challenge denials of their voting rights in front of an election judge. Citizens experiencing problems can call VOTEline at 1-800-792-VOTE (8683).
Many citizens struggle to get even basic information about elections and voting in New Jersey. One resident recently contacted the Division of Elections to find out how an undeclared voter chooses a party at the polls, and was transferred from one official to another, receiving no answer to this simple factual question.
"The reluctance of election officials to answer questions even about voting procedures illustrates the need for advocacy on election day," said the League's President, Anne Maiese. "If we care about democracy, then we must document and analyze these problems and fight for better laws and systems to ensure integrity at the polls."
The League's VOTEline helps fill the void for the public, handling thousands of callers seeking information about voting, elections and the political process. Maiese also reports that voter interest in the Primary is high, noting that the VOTELine calls swelled appreciably after the Iowa caucuses last month, with many asking about voter registration and change of party procedures.
Unfortunately, efforts to monitor election problems continue to be hampered by the state's refusal to allow poll monitors access to poll entrances. The ACLU-NJ has sued the State over the State Attorney General's Prohibition on non-partisan, non-electioneering free speech activities within 100 feet of a polling place.
Since the 2004 elections, the ACLU-NJ has documented and analyzed a myriad of voting rights problems and provided this information and recommendations for improvement to the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General. Problems include incomplete voter rolls, denial of language assistance, lack of sufficient provisional and emergency ballots and electronic machine problems.