1844 No More: Did You Know?

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Did you know?

  • New Jersey denies the fundamental right to vote to anyone in prison, on parole, or on probation because of a felony conviction.
  • Almost 100,000 New Jersey residents were denied the right to vote in the 2016 Presidential Election because of a felony conviction – more people than live in New Jersey’s capital city of Trenton, and more than live in over 150 other municipalities in the state.
  • New Jersey leads the nation in having the highest disparity in Black/white incarceration rates for both adults and youth: a Black adult is 12 times more likely to be incarcerated than a white adult and a Black child is over 30 times more likely to be incarcerated than a white child.
  • As a result of dramatic racial disparities in the criminal justice system, over half of the people prohibited from voting in 2016 were Black, even though Black people make up only about 15 percent of the state’s total population.
  • In all, over 5 percent of New Jersey’s Black voting age population was denied the right to vote in the 2016 Presidential election.
  • There is no evidence that denying the right to vote serves any legitimate public safety or criminal justice goal. In fact, research has shown that disfranchisement actually undermines public safety by hindering reintegration and creating second-class citizens.

New Jersey first broadly denied the right to vote because of a criminal conviction in 1844, the same year that the state adopted a constitution that limited the right to vote to white males, and a time when slavery was still legal and practiced in New Jersey.

Almost 175 years later, New Jersey still denies the fundamental right to vote on account of a criminal conviction. It’s time we sever the link between voting rights and the criminal justice system. Join us as we raise our voices to put an end to this anti-democratic practice and tell Governor Murphy and the Legislature: We Are 1844 No More. For more on the historical origins of New Jersey's disfranchisement law, read the Institute's report, We Are 1844 No More: Let Us Vote.

What can you do?

  • Contact your State Assembly Member, State Senator, and Governor Murphy and urge them to support S2100/A3456, legislation that would end New Jersey’s practice of denying the right to vote based on a criminal conviction, and to restore voting rights to the almost 100,000 people in prison, on parole, and on probation.
  • If you have been or currently are denied the right to vote because of a conviction, we want to hear your story. Please contact Institute Communications Director Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg at ewgreenberg@njisj.org and tell us why the right to vote is important to you.
  • Sign on your organization as an endorser of the campaign by emailing Elizabeth at ewgreenberg@njisj.org. Check out the list of endorsers here
  • Follow the Institute and #1844NoMore on social media for updates on the campaign and ways to get involved.