In the News

Institute and Partners Request Investigation into Problems at Newark Voting Locations

 

 

Institute and Partners Request Investigation into Problems at Newark Voting Locations

Essex County Election Issues Felt Disproportionately by Voters of Color

 

NEWARK – The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and 19 other advocates today sent a letter to Essex County Superintendent of Elections Patty Spango requesting an investigation into problems at multiple polling places in Newark for this week’s primary election and elections past.

During the June 8 primary, multiple polling places in Newark did not have voting machines when polls opened, and it took hours for the machines to arrive. Voters were left having to use provisional ballots – a necessary backup but one that should not have been needed – or return later to try again.

“I went to my Newark polling place at 7:30 on Tuesday morning to cast my ballot only to find that there were no voting machines available,” said Ryan Haygood, President & CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. “I was told to return later and not offered a provisional ballot until I proactively requested one. Unfortunately, this is not the first time I have encountered voting obstacles in Newark. Running elections is a massive endeavor, but we must do better.”

Democracy Advocates File Brief in Case Challenging New Jersey’s Primary Ballot Design

 

Democracy Advocates File Brief in Case Challenging New Jersey’s Primary Ballot Design

Brief Argues “the Line” Subverts Democracy, the Right to Vote and Fair Representation

 

NEWARK – The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and Campaign Legal Center today, on behalf of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey and Salvation and Social Justice, filed an amicus curiae brief in Conforti v Hanlon, a case challenging New Jersey’s use of “the line” and other misleading features in its ballot design. A pdf of the brief can be found here.

New Jersey is the only state in the country that organizes its primary election ballots by bracketing together a county-supported group of candidates in a column or row (“the line”), rather than listing each office and the candidates for that office in separate sections from one another. These bracketing rules in addition to other ballot design defects not only mislead and confuse New Jersey voters, but also disproportionately harm voters and candidates of color.

“During a time when democracy is under attack and we must do everything possible to strengthen and expand it, New Jersey is instead subverting it by maintaining an outmoded primary ballot design that misleads and confuses voters and interferes with their right to vote,” said Henal Patel, Director of the Democracy and Justice Program at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. “These ballot design flaws disproportionately burden Black and other voters of color and make it more difficult for candidates of color to win office, undermining the goal of fair representation. This is exactly the opposite of what our state should be doing during these pivotal times.”

New Jersey Election Protection Coalition Releases Report on 2020 General Election

 

Report Analyzes Eleven Key Challenges Experienced by Voters

NEWARK – The New Jersey Election Protection Coalition (the “Coalition”) today released a report (the “Report”) analyzing issues New Jersey voters encountered during the November 3, 2020 general election, including in the weeks leading up to it beginning on October 15. A full copy of the Report can be found here.

The Report highlights the challenges posed in an election run during a global pandemic and notes that, despite these challenges, New Jersey administered a safe and sound election. Indeed, the data show significant successes: more than 400,000 voters used a new online voter registration system that launched the month before the voter registration deadline, and turnout was historically high. At the same time, issues reported by voters throughout the state and verified by Election Protection volunteers reveal that the procedural changes necessitated by the pandemic did not always go smoothly and that some longer-term problems resurfaced in this election.

The Coalition consists of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, the Delaware-New Jersey National Lawyers Guild, Disability Rights New Jersey, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the League of Women Voters of New Jersey, Lowenstein Sandler LLP and the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.

New Jersey Institute for Social Justice Reacts to Chauvin Trial Verdict

 

 

New Jersey Institute for Social Justice Reacts to Chauvin Trial Verdict

 

NEWARK – The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice today reacted to the verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd.

The following can be attributed to Ryan Haygood, President & CEO:

“America let out a breath today because legal justice was served.

“Even in this case, where we saw with our own eyes a police officer crush the life out of George Floyd, history did not forecast this verdict with any certainty.

“Yet even as we acknowledge legal justice in this one case, we must remember that real justice would mean that George Floyd was still alive.

“True justice would mean that Mr. Floyd would have the opportunity to see his children and grandchildren grow up. And so much more.

New Jersey Institute for Social Justice Statement on Passing of Melville “De” Miller

 

New Jersey Institute for Social Justice Statement on Passing of Melville “De” Miller

 

April 6, 2021

NEWARK – It is with great sadness, respect and appreciation that the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice acknowledges the recent death of Melville “De” Miller and expresses our deepest condolences to his family and all those who mourn his passing.

De’s life-long commitment to New Jersey’s most impoverished residents was seen in how he built and led Legal Services of New Jersey and its Poverty Research Institute. His enormous advocacy skills, always grounded in the lived experience of individuals and families who had the least and suffered the most, were combined with a keen understanding of the law – both what it was and what it should be. His legacy is reflected most profoundly in how he sought to make real and tangible our nation’s aspiration that everyone should have access to justice – not only those with the resources to obtain it.

Governor Murphy Signs Legislation Establishing In-Person Early Voting in NJ

 

Historic Legislation Continues Murphy Administration's Commitment to Expanding Access to Democracy


     TRENTON – Governor Murphy, joined by legislators and advocates including national voting rights leader Stacey Abrams, today signed legislation (
S3203), which establishes in-person early voting in the State of New Jersey. The legislation is the latest in a series of initiatives by the Murphy Administration and the Legislature to expand access to voting rights and democracy amidst a wave of voter disenfranchisement measures across the country.

     "While other states are looking to find ways to keep their citizens from voting, we have consistently worked to ensure that the voices of the people are heard," said Governor Murphy. "I am immensely proud to sign this legislation today and to remind the nation that our democracy wins when we open the doors of our polling places wide instead of slamming them shut."

     "As New Jersey's chief election officer, I welcome this opportunity to make our state even more voter-friendly," said Secretary of State Tahesha Way. "In person early voting will strengthen our democracy by providing voters with more options to cast their ballot."

New Jersey Legislature Passes Two Bills to Make Voting More Accessible

 

 

New Jersey Legislature Passes Two Bills to Make Voting More Accessible

Legislation to Establish Early Voting and Allow Equitable Dropbox Placement Ready for Governor’s Signature  

 

NEWARK – The New Jersey Legislature today passed two pro-democracy bills that will help make voting more robust and accessible to voters in New Jersey, particularly in Black and other communities of color.

After previous passage in the Assembly, the Senate passed legislation (S3203/A4830) to establish early in-person voting, bringing the state a step closer to joining many other states that already provide this option for casting a ballot.

Institute and Over 80 Groups Urge Passage of Same-Day Voter Registration

 

 

Institute and Over 80 Groups Urge Passage of Same-Day Voter Registration

Current Registration Deadline Arbitrary and Disenfranchises Voters, Say Groups

 

NEWARK – Over 80 advocacy groups including the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and the League of Women Voters of New Jersey today wrote to Gov. Murphy, Sen. President Steve Sweeney and Speaker Craig Coughlin urging them to pass and sign pending legislation (A4548/S2824) to establish same-day voter registration in New Jersey, including on Election Day.

“New Jersey’s three-week arbitrary registration deadline disenfranchises voters year after year. It is long past time for New Jersey to join the over 20 states that allow voters to register on the same day that they vote up to and on Election Day,” said the groups in their letter.

Institute and 100 Groups Urge Gov. Murphy and Legislators to Support Youth Justice Reform Bill

 

 

Institute and 100 Groups Urge Gov. Murphy and Legislators to Support Youth Justice Reform Bill

Letter to Elected Officials and New Podcast Spell Out Necessity of Passing A4663/S2924

 

NEWARK – The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and 100 other organizations today sent a letter to Gov. Murphy, Sen. President Steve Sweeney and Ass. Speaker Craig Coughlin urging them to support the Restorative and Transformative Justice for Youths and Communities Pilot Program bill (the “Restorative Justice bill”) (A4663/S2924). A full copy of the letter can be found here.

As part of an effort to radically transform New Jersey’s broken youth justice system, the Restorative Justice bill will establish a two-year pilot program in four communities (Camden, Newark, Trenton and Paterson) directly impacted by high rates of youth incarceration. The bill requires moving $8.4 million from New Jersey’s overfunded incarceration system to restorative justice pilot programs – an approach that focuses on building healthy relationships and resolving conflicts in communities to decrease youth involvement in the youth justice system. The bill envisions a cost-effective plan to reduce racial disparities and recidivism rates and implement less punitive and more restorative interventions. The new programs would support youth who are released from incarceration and help them – and other youth – succeed and stay out of the system.

Rutgers University-Newark Joins Initiative With Various Schools to Combat Racial Oppression in Communities

TapInto's Tom Wiedmann reports

NEWARK, NJ -- Rutgers University–Newark announced today that it joined a collaborative grant project with other universities to raise awareness of racial issues and injustice. 

Invited by the University of Michigan Center on Social Solutions, Rutgers partnered with the grant-funded project sponsored by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. As part of the foundation’s initiative, the center is creating “Crafting Democratic Futures: Situating Colleges and Universities in Community-Based Reparations Solutions,” a partnership with nine colleges and universities located in cities spanning various regions of the US. 

Through this project, officials said that participating colleges and universities in each city will collaborate with community partners in a public history reckoning designed to yield tangible, community-based racial reparations solutions that reflect the specific histories and contemporary circumstances of each community.

For its part of the three-year project, officials said Rutgers-Newark will work with the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice (NJISJ) and Newark Community Development Network (NCDN) to engage the city in raising awareness.