NEWARK - The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey and League of Women Voters New Jersey announced today that they will provide poll monitoring and voter advocacy services for tomorrow's primary election.
"Voting rights advocates play an important role at the polls when voters need vital information," said Deborah Jacobs, ACLU-NJ Executive Director. "Over the years we have assisted countless voters in securing the right to vote by providing information, advocacy and even representation in court."
The ACLU-NJ's Voter Protection efforts for the primary will include monitoring at polling sites in Middlesex, Essex and Hudson counties. Poll monitors will distribute voting rights information cards to interested voters and try to advise voters who have encountered obstacles about their rights. The ACLU-NJ will also have attorneys available to assist voters whose right to vote is denied.
Unfortunately, efforts to monitor elections continue to be hampered by the state's refusal to allow poll monitors access to poll entrances. This prohibition by the Attorney General keeps the ACLU-NJ's nonpartisan poll monitors from coming within 100 feet of the polls, which in many locations makes it difficult to access voters to help them with their voting rights AND answering their questions. The ACLU-NJ has sued the State over this violation of free speech and voting rights, and awaits a ruling.
In addition to the on-site monitoring, the League of Women Voters' VOTEline at 1-800-792-VOTE (8683) will be open all day for the purpose of answering inquiries from voters.
During past election monitoring efforts, some of the biggest concerns have been failures to offer provisional ballots to voters who believed that they had registered but whose names were missing from the registration lists, failures to provide emergency paper ballots and confusion or malfunction when operating voting machines. Read Voting Rights and Wrongs for details on the issues encountered during the February 2008 Presidential Primary.
The ACLU-NJ and LWVNJ are working closely with the Secretary of State's office in its new oversight of elections in hopes of improving poll worker training, voter education and tracking of Election Day problems. The Secretary of State recently assumed responsibility for elections and has pledged to address the problems of the past.
Voters in need of assistance on June 3 should contact the VOTEline at 1-800-792-VOTE or the ACLU-NJ at 973-642-2084.