Leading Civil Rights Groups Launch Voter Protection Efforts on Election Day in New Jersey

Questions About or Problems with Voting? Call 866.OUR.VOTE

Newark, New Jersey—To safeguard the voting rights of New Jersey’s voters of color, the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and its initiative New Jersey Communities Forward, together with the Garden State Bar Association, NAACP New Jersey State Conference, Latino Action Network, New Jersey Black Issues Convention, Rutgers Law School’s Constitutional Rights Clinic, and the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, launched New Jersey Prepared to Vote 2016.  

“We are just days away from the first presidential election in more than 50 years without the heart of the Voting Rights Act in place,” said Ryan P. Haygood, President & CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. “Through our non-partisan Prepared to Vote 2016 effort, we seek to ensure maximum participation by New Jersey’s voters of color in this important election. On Election Day, we will have volunteer poll monitors providing on the ground assistance to voters at polling places across New Jersey.”  

While volunteers will be out on November 8 to assist those who have trouble at the polls, voters are urged to call the Election Protection Program voter hotline, hosted by Lowenstein Sandler LLP (866-OUR-VOTE), in advance of Election Day to verify their voter registration and poll site location. Voters are also encouraged to call 866-OUR-VOTE on Election Day to report any problems voting. 

“Too often voters confront barriers on Election Day, such as confusion about acceptable identification, being asked to cast a provisional ballot, restrictions on voting for people with criminal convictions, voting machine irregularities, and challenges by partisan representatives,” said Andrea McChristian, Institute Associate Counsel. “We want to ensure that every eligible voter who casts a ballot has it counted.” 

 “The Garden State Bar Association is excited to partner in this effort to ensure that every voice is heard in this important election,” said Crystal West Edwards, President of the Garden State Bar Association. “As demonstrated in recent elections, every vote counts, and our members are eager to serve as a resource to voters on Election Day.” 

On Election Day, volunteers across New Jersey will assist voters with problems they encounter at the polls, observe the voting process, distribute voter empowerment materials, and report any irregularities that occur to the Election Protection Program voter hotline, 866-OUR-VOTE, which in turn will make appropriate reports to New Jersey elections officials and/or the Department of Justice.  

 “Voting is the foundation of our democracy, which is why we are joining this effort to ensure that every voter is able to vote,” said Richard T. Smith, President of the NAACP New Jersey State Conference. “During this and every election cycle we must lift our voices and cast our votes to show that our lives matter, our votes count.”

To ensure that all who are eligible can cast their vote, Rutgers Law School Constitutional Rights Clinic students will represent Essex County residents who registered to vote but were turned away from the polls in their pursuit of court orders allowing them to cast ballots on Election Day.  

“The right to vote is sacrosanct,” said Rutgers Law Professor Alexis Karteron, who directs the Constitutional Rights Clinic. “We will represent voters [at the Essex County Courthouse], go before judges, and make applications for court orders allowing people to vote.”

“As the Supreme Court has recognized, voting is the fundamental right that protects all other civil rights,” said Jerome Harris of the New Jersey Black Issues Convention.  “For that reason, we will be active on Election Day ensuring that voters of color have full and equal access to it.”