In the News

NJ Public Health Credits Law Signed, Setting National Standard for COVID-19 in Prisons


Gov. Murphy signed into law S2519/A4235, which lets people nearing end of prison sentences go home months early

TRENTON – In a victory for racial justice and public health, Gov. Murphy on Oct. 19 signed into law S2519/A4235, championed by Senator Nellie Pou and Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, to save lives from the COVID-19 pandemic. The law, which is the first of its kind in the United States, implements public health emergency credits that will allow for the early release of incarcerated people nearing the end of their sentences during the COVID-19 pandemic. The policy sets a standard for other states as infections rate climb nationally, especially in prisons, which are known as Petri dishes for viral spread.

“This law unfortunately comes too late to save my son Rory, who died of COVID-19 just weeks before he was to come home – but, thankfully, it can save other mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and countless loved ones the heartbreak I have been through from knowing my child’s death could have been prevented. I thank the Legislature and Gov. Murphy for paying tribute to my beautiful son’s life by making sure fewer lives are lost to this virus,” said Bernice Ferguson, whose son Rory Price died of COVID-19 in March.

Court Ruling Protects NJ Voters Against Trump Lawsuit



Federal Judge Blocks Trump Campaign Attempt to Undermine New Jersey’s Plan for Safe & Robust Election


TRENTON, NJ—A federal judge ruled on Tuesday in Trump v. Murphy that election provisions allowing election officials to begin canvassing vote-by-mail ballots 10 days before Election Day and allowing ballots without a postmark to be counted if received within 48 hours of the election do not violate federal law. The League of Women Voters and the NAACP New Jersey State Conference were granted leave to intervene in the case on behalf of voters last month. The groups are represented by the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, Campaign Legal Center and DLA Piper.

More information about the case can be found here

Video Release: Danny Devito Tells NJ How to Vote




New Jersey’s Danny DeVito Narrates


TRENTON, NJ – With a little help from Danny DeVito, the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and a diverse group of non-profit organizations have created a fresh way to educate New Jerseyans about the importance of voting and how to do it safely and effectively during COVID-19. The coalition has created a short non-partisan animated video for viewers that clearly outlines how to vote in this election - how to fill out a paper ballot, where to place your signature, and where and how to deliver your vote to ensure it’s received. There is also a Spanish version of the video for New Jersey registered voters who speak Spanish as a first language to help make sure they have equal access to the information they need to vote.

"We are living in extraordinary times, facing challenges we haven’t faced before – especially for communities of color who have been ravaged by the current pandemic," said Henal Patel, Director of the Democracy & Justice Program at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. "Like everything else, voting looks different this year. But as we face one of the most urgent elections of our lifetimes, it's more important than ever that we get it right. We hope this video proves helpful for New Jerseyans across the state who want to make sure their voices are heard."

Institute and Partners Release Post-Election Assessment from 2020 Primary



Report Details What Worked, What Didn’t and What Should be Fixed for Upcoming Elections


NEWARK – The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, the NAACP New Jersey State Conference and the League of Women Voters of NJ (the “groups”) today released 2020 Primary Post-Election Assessment and Recommendations for Future Elections.


As the country and New Jersey look forward to one of the most urgent elections in our lifetimes, this report details what went well in New Jersey’s July primary election, what issues arose and recommendations for upcoming elections – including in November.


“This is one of the most important election years in a generation. In the throes of the coronavirus pandemic, it is more important than ever that we have full access to the democratic process,” said the groups in its assessment. “But like every other aspect of our lives, the pandemic has led to a marked change in the voting process, including the manner in which we cast our votes.”


Trump’s Challenge to New Jersey’s Plan for Vote-by-Mail Threatens Voting Rights, Advocacy Groups Say in New Legal Filing



Trump’s Challenge to New Jersey’s Plan for Vote-by-Mail Threatens Voting Rights, Advocacy Groups Say in New Legal Filing


Campaign Legal Center (CLC) and New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, on behalf of clients NAACP-New Jersey and League of Women Voters New Jersey, filed a motion late Monday to intervene in a lawsuit brought by President Trump, which challenges New Jersey’s plan to send all active registered voters a vote-by-mail ballot during the pandemic. The parties argue that changing New Jersey’s current voting plan could cause widespread voter confusion, hinder voters’ access to voting by mail during a pandemic which might deter people from voting in person, and undermine voters’ ability to vote in a safe and effective manner.

“Voters in New Jersey are relying on receiving their absentee ballots automatically in the mail. Altering course at this time could prevent voters from being able to participate in the presidential election,” said Paul Smith, Vice President, Litigation and Strategy at Campaign Legal Center (CLC). “Mail voting is safe and secure. The only people who can vote by mail or absentee are voters who have verified their eligibility and identity with an election official. Because of COVID-19, it is important that anybody who is concerned about their health be able to vote by absentee ballot to encourage their participation and keep them safe.”

Plaintiffs in NJ Lawsuit Establishing Fair Ballot Signature Match Process Applaud Ballot Cure Act



Plaintiffs in NJ Lawsuit Establishing Fair Ballot Signature Match Process Applaud Ballot Cure Act

Bill Signed by Governor Codifies and Strengthens Lawsuit Resolution


NEWARK— Plaintiffs and their counsel in the LWV New Jersey v. Way lawsuit today applauded the New Jersey legislature for passing, and Gov. Phil Murphy for signing, the Ballot Cure Act (A4276), establishing a notice and cure process for mail-in and provisional ballots in New Jersey for future elections. The bill was signed by the Governor late Friday and codifies into law provisions from the lawsuit settlement as well as other voter protections advocated for by the parties.

Institute Responds to Gov. Murphy’s Budget Address



Institute Responds to Gov. Murphy’s Budget Address


NEWARK – The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice today issued the following statement in response to Gov. Murphy’s budget address:

“There is much to be encouraged by in the budget proposal announced by Gov. Murphy today.

"We are heartened that Governor Murphy is investing $5 million toward early voting. It is more important than ever to invest in broadening and strengthening our democracy. Early voting – which we have long called for – will do just that.

Institute and League of Women Voters of NJ Respond to Gov. Murphy’s General Election Plan



Institute and League of Women Voters of NJ Respond to Gov. Murphy’s General Election Plan


NEWARK – The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and the League of Women Voters of New Jersey issued the following statement responding to today’s announcement by Governor Murphy regarding procedures for the Nov. 3 General Election:

“These are unprecedented times and we appreciate that Governor Murphy had many factors to weigh to protect both our democracy and public health for the General Election in November.

“We are heartened that eligible voters will be receiving mail-in ballots, and that they can return them via mail, drop boxes or at polling places on Election Day. It is also important that online voter registration will be available on September 4, 2020.

NJ Redistricting Proposal Could Delay Minority Representation

NJTV's Raven Santana reports

Monday morning members of the Assembly Judiciary Committee held a meeting via Zoom to discuss a proposed constitutional amendment that would keep current district lines in place until the 2023 election, for a total of 12 years, instead of the 10 now mandated in the constitution.

Assemblyman John McKeon, the sponsor of bill ACR188, says due to the uncertainty of COVID-19, he’s concerned the state won’t have the most up-to-date census data, which is why he proposed the amendment.

“If we’re concerned about a census undercount in these communities of color, we should also be concerned with how delaying the drawing and implementation of a new redistrict map is going to also impact these same communities of color,” said Helen Kioukis, program associate for the New Jersey League of Women Voters.

As Covid Delays Census, Lawmakers Seek To Extend Outdated Map

NJ 101.5's Michael Symons reports

New Jersey’s population has changed significantly since 2010, but a delay in the census has state lawmakers pushing to run one more election on the decade-old legislative map.

COVID-19 will delay the completion of the census by at least four months, blowing up the schedule for adjusting district boundaries for 2021 elections. Democrats plan to ask voters to amend the constitution to delay redistricting until the 2023 cycle, despite New Jersey’s rapid diversification and changing growth patterns.