NJ Attorney General Announces Elections Safeguards to Protect the Right to Vote
Early voting in New Jersey began on Saturday, October 29, and will end on Sunday, November 6.
At the start of the early voting period, New Jersey Attorney General announced several initiatives from the Department of Law and Public Safety “to help ensure a fair, free, and smooth-running election, and to assist voters, election officials, and law enforcement in resolving any emergent voting-related legal matters.”
During this early voting period, Oct. 29-Nov. 6, and on Election Day Tuesday, November 8, the Attorney General and the Division of Civil Rights have established a Voter Protection Initiative.
The initiative focuses on identifying and addressing any voting rights or civil rights violations, including under the New Jersey Civil Rights Act and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, that may arise during early voting and on Election Day.
The Voter Protection Initiative will operate independently of the attorneys in the Division of Law who represent county elections officials and the Secretary of State.
“The right to vote is sacred, and we will do everything in our power to safeguard that right,” said Attorney General Matthew Platkin. “Now more than ever, it is critical that we ensure that New Jerseyans do not face intimidation, discrimination, or harassment when exercising their constitutional right to vote. Our Department’s initiatives to protect the right to vote during this election will ensure that every eligible voter will be able to cast a ballot, and that anyone who attempts to interfere with the voting process will be held accountable to the full extent of the law.”
The Attorney General also announced that, as in prior elections, hundreds of attorneys from the Division of Law will be working shifts to answer questions from county elections officials to ensure that all eligible voters can cast their ballots “quickly, freely, and fairly.”
The Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) will monitor voter intimidation, electioneering, election fraud, and other criminal violations, and will direct reports of election interference to local and federal law enforcement. Additionally, the New Jersey Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Cell (NJCCIC) will be monitoring for election security threats – both cyber and physical.
In preparation for Election Day, the OPIA has issued the Attorney General’s Law Enforcement Guidance for Elections to local law enforcement officials across the state.
Moreover, the Department of Law and Public Safety created a webpage
providing NJ voters with voting-related resources and answers to frequently asked questions regarding the right to vote. The webpage explains how voters can report any problems they encounter during early voting or on Election Day.
In addition to this newly created webpage, the New Jersey Division of Elections website provides a list of county-level election office contacts, as well as other useful elections-related information.
Any person who believes his or her right to vote has been interfered with, or who wishes to report other voting-related problems or concerns, can call the State’s Voter Information and Assistance line toll-free at 1-877-NJVOTER.
Members of the public also can direct election-related questions to their County Superintendent of Elections and County Board of Elections.
Any member of the public who has been subject to discrimination or harassment in connection with voting may also report the issue to the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights through the NJ BIAS online portal, or by calling 1-800-277-BIAS (1-800-277-2427). Depending on their urgency, complaints regarding possible discrimination or harassment filed with the Division on Civil Rights may be addressed during the election or after the election.
Attorney General Platkin also reminds the public that it is a criminal offense to solicit or electioneer voters within a “protective zone” as they enter or exit a polling location. The “protective zone” extends 100 feet from the outside entrance of any polling site. Attempts to interfere with voters within this zone are usually handled by law enforcement officers from the appropriate agency.
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