New Jersey Lawmakers Push For In-Person Early Voting by 2021. County Election Officials Fear It’s Not Doable | Jeff Pillets/TAPinto

Fresh off a record-setting election that upended traditional voting habits, New Jersey lawmakers are pushing ahead on another big change in time for next year’s governor’s race: in-person early voting. But exhausted election workers, still wrapping up this year’s mostly mail-in general election, worry they may be unable to meet another major voting mandate from Trenton. “We all want more people to vote, but we’re going to need more staffing, more time, more cooperation with the state and a better system overall,” said Lynn Caterson, a member of the Atlantic County Board of Elections. “And what about the money?” Senate President Steve Sweeney, in an interview Thursday with NJ Spotlight News, said a new law that would open polling places two weeks early could be passed by year’s end or early in 2021 — in time for the June 8 primary election, when voters will choose candidates for governor. “The point is we want early voting to happen,” said Sweeney (D-Gloucester). “We’ve just got to figure out how to fund it.”

Full Article: NJ Lawmakers Push For In-Person Early Voting by 2021. County Election Officials Fear It’s Not Doable – TAPinto

New Jersey’s first primarily vote-by-mail general election went off without a hitch as counts continue, elections officials say | Katie Kausch and Rebecca Everett |

New Jersey’s unprecedented vote-by-mail general election went smooth throughout the state, election officials said, as an army of workers counted millions of ballots before and on Election Day. Compared to some states that didn’t start counting ballots until Election Day, some parts of New Jersey got a head start. Pre-election measures, like allowing early counting of ballots and calling in assistance from the National Guard, alleviated most of the concern surrounding an election that saw mail-in ballots automatically sent to over 6 million registered New Jersey voters. Some of those ballots are still being counted, as many were delivered to polling places or drop boxes on Election Day, and provisional ballots cast at polls will not be counted until Nov. 10, the last day officials can accept ballots postmarked by Nov. 3. In Burlington County, things went so smoothly that the only significant issue was a traffic jam as election workers tried to drive to the county building to drop off bundles of ballots collected from polling locations and drop boxes at the close of polls.

Full Article: N.J.’s first primarily vote-by-mail general election went off without a hitch as counts continue, elections officials say –

New Jersey: Paper ballots, hand sanitizer and plenty of confusion: Scenes from New Jersey’s polling sites | Kelly Heyboer and Ted Sherman/

As New Jersey enters the final hours of voting on the most unusual Election Day in its history, state and local officials say in-person voting has gone smoothly — though not perfectly — at polls across the state. Some polling sites, including several in Newark and Paterson, opened late Tuesday, leading to longer-than-expected lines. At other polling places, some confused voters objected when they were handed provisional ballots instead of casting their votes on the machines they’ve used in the past.And some people trying to drop off their mail-in ballots found the official county collection boxes full. But, for the most part, things have gone smoothly, said Jesse Burns, executive director of the League of Women Voters. “New Jersey voting right advocates are fielding a large number of calls today from voters reporting delayed openings, long lines, lack of proper signage at polling locations, as well as general voting questions,” Burns said. “The majority of issues are being resolved quickly and voters should not be deterred from voting.”

Full Article: Paper ballots, hand sanitizer and plenty of confusion: Scenes from N.J.’s polling sites –

New Jersey processes mail ballots early as Pennsylvania fights about it | lison Steele/Philadelphia Inquirer

Just days before Election Day, New Jersey’s voter turnout has hit 80% of the state’s total number of ballots cast in 2016, state officials said Friday. And unlike next door in Pennsylvania, many of those 3.1 million votes are already being counted.After Gov. Phil Murphy issued an executive order in August to make New Jersey’s election a mostly mail-in event by mailing ballots to most voters, he signed a bill allowing counties to open and process ballots up to 10 days early. The law, specific to this year’s election, prohibits elections officials from collecting tallies of the results or releasing information before the polls close. New Jersey officials believe the measure will minimize delays in getting conclusive election results — an ongoing concern across the river in Pennsylvania, where Republicans have turned away pleas by local elections administrators from across the state to allow what’s known as “pre-canvassing” of mail. Pennsylvania’s law prohibiting counties from processing ballots before 7 a.m. on Election Day means that election night results will only reflect a fraction of the mail vote — potentially leaving the results unclear for days. Several counties won’t start counting mail ballots until the next day.

Full Article: New Jersey processes mail ballots early as Pennsylvania fights about it

New Jersey Election Officials Scramble on First Mostly Mail-In Vote | Joseph De Avila/Wall Street Journal

New Jersey’s election system will be tested in the coming weeks as most voters will be casting their ballots for the presidential election by mail or dropping them off for the first time in the state’s history.The state is one of four in the U.S. that this year opted to automatically mail ballots to voters to minimize in-person voting to limit the spread of the coronavirus. A handful of other states, including Utah and Oregon, already take the approach for every election.Local election officials have begun delivering nearly six million ballots statewide to active registered voters, the most ever mailed in the state. More than 1.25 million ballots had been returned as of Thursday, according to the New Jersey Secretary of State’s office, or 32% of the total number who voted in the 2016 presidential election.

New Jersey: Trump keeps touting New Jersey fraud case to attack mail voting. Local leaders say he’s not telling the whole story. | Rosalind S. Helderman/The Washington Post

Five days before the citizens of Paterson, N.J., selected new members of their city council in May, a postal employee in a neighboring town spotted something suspicious in a local post office: 347 mail-in ballots, bundled together. The discovery kicked off weeks of tumult in New Jersey’s third-largest city, a densely populated and diverse community. Four men, including a city councilman, have been charged with fraud. Amid the controversy, the county election board disqualified 19 percent of ballots cast in the race. The episode probably would have remained a local dust-up but for the sudden interest of President Trump, who has spent the past several months attacking voting by mail as a practice he says is susceptible to massive fraud. In recent weeks, he has seized on the situation in Paterson as the prime exhibit in the case he is making about why the November election will be “rigged,” as he has repeatedly put it. In a tweet Sunday afternoon in which he misspelled the name of the city, he wrote, “The 2020 Election will be totally rigged if Mail-In Voting is allowed to take place, & everyone knows it. So much time is taken talking about foreign influence, but the same people won’t even discuss Mail-In election corruption. Look at Patterson, N.J. 20% of vote was corrupted!”

New Jersey: That’s a fold, not a vote! 1,200 Atlantic County ballots misread by scanner | Michelle Brunetti/Press of Atlantic City

About 1,200 Democratic ballots have been incorrectly read by a scanning machine, the Atlantic County Board of Elections reported Thursday afternoon, and were expected to be recounted by Friday morning. The problem is not likely to affect results in a primary election in which an estimated 45,000 ballots have been received and about 28,000 have been counted as of 2 p.m. Thursday, according to the board. “Board staff discovered a great many overvotes, which means that someone voted for two people for the same office, in situations where they were only allowed to vote for one,” Board Chair Lynn Caterson said. An investigation found that folds on some ballots hit voting bubbles on the “write-in” line in such a way that it caused the scanning machine to inaccurately read them as filled in by the voter.

New Jersey: State Takes Steps to Protect Primary’s Vote-by-Mail Ballots | Alexa Corse/Wall Street Journal

New Jersey officials sought to tamp down concerns ahead of the state’s primary voting Tuesday, after criminal charges over alleged mail-ballot fraud marred a local election in Paterson, N.J. State officials emphasized that voter fraud is rare and said measures are being taken to protect mail-in ballots. The primary is being conducted mostly by mail and was delayed from its original date of June 2 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Security measures include verifying mail voters’ signatures against voter-registration records, cross-checking lists of mail and in-person voters to ensure no one votes twice, allowing voters to drop off their ballots at their county board of election in case they don’t trust the mail, and encouraging voters to alert officials if they notice anything suspicious, said New Jersey secretary-of-state spokeswoman Alicia D’Alessandro. Several counties also said that they placed their ballot drop-off boxes under security-camera surveillance. The state is voting in the presidential races and in down-ballot contests, including a Democratic primary to challenge U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew, who switched parties and became a Republican last year. The scrutiny comes after New Jersey’s attorney general announced voting-fraud charges in June against four men—including two winning candidates—over allegations involving mail-in ballots during a nonpartisan May election in Paterson, a solidly Democratic city. Those two candidates are registered Democrats, according to the local county clerk’s office. Several of the charges related to alleged improper collection of mail-in ballots from other voters.

New Jersey: What alleged voter fraud in Paterson, New Jersey tells us about November — and what it doesn’t | Philip Bump/The Washington Post

At some point it becomes blurry whether President Trump is defending a position because he believes it or because he refuses to lose the debate. He has been claiming for four years that American elections are subject to massive, widespread voter fraud, for example, and continues to make those claims despite a complete lack of evidence. Yes, some fraud occurs, but that doesn’t mean that it occurs widely, much less without detection. This is an important distinction, so it’s worth reiterating. It is the case that your car could be stolen. Auto theft exists. There are even local gangs who steal cars regularly and sell them for parts. It is not the case, though, that there exists a national ring of car thieves who operate without detection, purloining and selling millions of cars a year. That auto theft exists does not strengthen the argument that auto theft exists at a scale in which the system of auto ownership is imperiled.

New Jersey: Division of Elections spent $89,000 for one online voter | David Wildstein/New Jersey Globe

New Jersey spent $89,000 to test online voting, but just one voter used the system in the May 12 non-partisan municipal elections. New Jersey Division of Elections director Robert F. Giles awarded the contact, obtained by the New Jersey Globe,  to Seattle-based Democracy Live, Inc. on April 27 to test an electronic ballot delivery system that would allow voters needing special assistance to vote online using their computer or mobile device. The contract was not publicly bid. “This was all very hush-hush,” a county clerk, speaking on the condition of anonymity told Globe.  “They didn’t want this heavily publicized.  They were just testing it and didn’t want people to know about it in case something went wrong.” The contract, which had been in the works, was not finalized until after ballots for the all-VBM May 12 elections had already been printed and mailed. Several election officials told the Globe that Giles instructed them to include an insert with the ballots that included vague language saying that a disabled voter needing assistance should call the county clerk’s office. One election official described the process as an “honor system” that would allow a voter to supply them with an e-mail address to send a link for online voting without any effective verification process. “We were told to just ask for an email address,” the official said.

New Jersey: Software glitch delays military, overseas ballot mailings | David Wildstein/New Jersey Globe

A software malfunction with the state Division of Elections’ Statewide Voter Registration System (SVRS) has delayed the mailing of some military and overseas citizen ballots for the July 7 primary election. A new system the state began using this year was not attaching ballots to the correct voter file, the New Jersey Globe has learned. A fix for the glitch was planned over Memorial Day weekend, but it didn’t work.  Election officials and an outside vendor are working to triage the technology issue and are expected to take another run at it in the next day or so. It’s not clear if the optional ballot bulking problems will be fixed at all. The Division of Elections notified county clerks this morning that they should send out military and overseas ballots on an individual basis rather than depend on the state voter base.

New Jersey: New Jersey abandons internet voting, for now | Tim Starks/Politico

New Jersey has decided not to repeat its recent experiment with internet voting during its July 7 presidential primary, the state told MC on Wednesday. “Given Gov. [Phil] Murphy’s announcement on how the primary will be run, it was determined that we don’t need the technology,” said Alicia D’Alessandro, a spokesperson for Secretary of State Tahesha Way. New Jersey allowed voters with disabilities to cast ballots online during May 12’s municipal elections, becoming one of the first states to test the technology as the coronavirus pandemic prompts in-person voting fears. That decision quickly drew a lawsuit from residents seeking to enforce a 2010 court order prohibiting any voting equipment connected to the internet. The Garden State’s decision comes as activists urge election officials to heed the overwhelming expert consensus: Internet voting is fundamentally insecure. Warnings from multiple federal agencies and independent experts “should be enough for New Jersey should to immediately ban all internet-based voting systems for all future elections,” said Penny Venetis, the director of Rutgers University’s International Human Rights Clinic, who wrote a letter supporting the recent lawsuit. (Only one person used the internet voting platform in the May 12 elections, according to Venetis.)

New Jersey: Emergency Motion to Stop Internet Voting in New Jersey | Penny Venetis/Freedom to Tinker

On May 4th, 2020 a press release from announced that New Jersey would allow online voting in a dozen school-board elections scheduled for May 12th. On May 11, the Rutgers International Human Rights Clinic filed an emergency motion to stop internet voting in New Jersey. During a conference on May 18 with Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson, the State notified the court that it had abandoned its plans to use internet voting for the upcoming July 7 primary election.  The Clinic, led by Rutgers Law School professor Penny Venetis, argued that the Democracy Live online voting system (that New Jersey planned to use) violated a broad court order issued in March 2010 by Judge Linda Feinberg.  That order was issued in the Clinic’s case Gusciora v. Corzine, which challenged paperless voting machines as unconstitutional.   The March 2010 court order stated clearly and unequivocally that no part of any New Jersey voting system could be connected to the internet, under any circumstance.  New Jersey has a continuing obligation to ensure that the order is followed, and that all voting-related software is “hardened” on a regular basis.

New Jersey: Officials disqualify 19% of votes cast in Paterson | Joe Malinconico/Paterson Press

A total of 3,190 mail-in ballots – about 19 percent of those submitted – have been disqualified in the hotly-contested elections for Paterson’s six ward seats on the City Council, officials said on Wednesday. The Passaic County Board of Elections previously had announced that it decided not to count about 800 ballots because they allegedly were improperly bundled in mailboxes and would be turned over to law enforcement authorities for an investigation of potential irregularities. But the election board ended up disqualifying more than 2,300 additional votes during its ballot-by-ballot review of the documents. Keith Furlong, spokesman for Passaic County government, attributed the additional disqualifications to the election board’s annual practice of checking the signatures on the ballots against those on file for voters. “It’s part of the normal process,” Furlong said. The massive number of disqualified ballots in an election already rife with allegations of fraud has political insiders predicting that several losing candidates would file legal challenges seeking to overturn the results.

New Jersey: State is arbitrarily throwing out thousands of mail-in ballots, lawsuit says | Blake Nelson/

Ahead of a surge in mail-in ballots because of the coronavirus, New Jersey voting rights and social justice groups are suing to change how the state counts votes. In order to verify a ballot, election officials currently compare the signature on a ballot with the corresponding signature on the initial application, according to state law. That has led “untrained” staff to arbitrarily throw out thousands of votes without due process, according to a lawsuit filed Monday by a resident with Parkinson’s disease, who said his shaking hand has fundamentally altered how he signs his name. “When you think about how much a signature can change over the years, or how a disability can impact one’s handwriting, it is clear that this is unacceptable,” Ryan Haygood, president of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, said in a statement. The institute co-filed the complaint in U.S. District Court of New Jersey on behalf of the resident with Parkinson’s and the state chapters of the League of Women Voters and the NAACP.

New Jersey: Close Results In Paterson Vote Plagued By Fraud Claims; Over 3K Ballots Seemingly Set Aside | Jonathan Dienst/NBC

mid widespread vote-by-mail fraud allegations in the Paterson city council election, one race was apparently decided by just 8 votes. Incumbent Shahin Khalique defeated Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman — 1,729 votes to 1,721. And long-time council member William McKoy lost by 245 votes to challenger Alex Mendez. A Passaic County spokesman said 16,747 vote-by-mail ballots were received, but the county’s official results page shows 13,557 votes were counted — a difference of 3,190 votes. Those thousands of ballots not counted would represent nearly one in five of all votes cast, or 19 percent. The Board of Elections previously announced about 800 votes would be set aside and not counted amid charges they were found improperly bundled in mailboxes in Paterson as well as at a drop box in nearby Haledon.

New Jersey: State’s July 7 primary election will be mostly vote-by-mail during coronavirus pandemic, Murphy says | Brent Johnson/

New Jersey has already moved its upcoming primary elections — which include races for president, U.S. Senate, and U.S. House — from June 2 to July 7 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Now, Gov. Phil Murphy has signed an executive order to make the elections mostly be vote-by-mail, though each county will have a limited number of in-person polling places. Murphy announced Friday that all registered Democratic and Republican voters will receive a mail-in ballot with prepaid postage to vote in the July 7 primary. Unaffiliated or inactive voters will get an application to apply for mail-in ballots, the governor said. Voters can drop off ballots at regular mail boxes and secure drop-boxes that counties will be required to set up. “We will ensure every vote is counted,” Murphy said during his daily coronavirus briefing in Trenton. ”Our goals are twofold: to maximize our democracy while minimizing the risk of illness. We want everyone to participate in a safe and fully democratic process.”

New Jersey: Lawsuit aims to halt any more online voting in New Jersey | Sara Swann/The Fulcrum

New Jersey piloted a new online voting system for people with disabilities this week, but a lawsuit could stop the state from using it again. Human rights activists and law school students are challenging the new voting system, arguing it’s unfair to expose only one category of voters to significant risk their ballots will get hacked with impunity. Using a special app to vote over the internet is denigrated by most cybersecurity experts, who say the threat of votes being compromised is hardly worth the convenience. Four federal technology, law enforcement and election agencies united behind a report this month bluntly warning states against adopting online voting because “ensuring ballot integrity and maintaining voter privacy is difficult, if not impossible, at this time.” New Jersey ran its first test of online voting in 33 local elections Tuesday. The system was only available for people with disabilities, who would have had difficulty casting ballots in contests that were otherwise conducted entirely by mail because of the coronavirus pandemic.

New Jersey: Lawsuit tries to block Internet voting in New Jersey | Joseph Marks/The Washington Post

Human rights activists and New Jersey law students are suing to block the state from using Internet-based voting systems, which security experts say are fundamentally insecure against hacking. The effort is a shot across the bow for the online systems, which some states have embraced as a solution for people who have trouble voting by mail during the pandemic despite widespread security concerns. New Jersey piloted an app-based system on Tuesday in a collection of 33 small elections for people with disabilities that make it impractical for them to vote by mail. Everyone else had to vote by mail and there was no in-person voting option. New Jersey officials haven’t said whether they plan to repeat the pilot in the state’s July primary or the general election, but the lawsuit is trying to stop those plans before they start. It’s essentially an offshoot of an earlier lawsuit that challenged the security of the state’s voting machines and also dealt with the danger of voting systems going online. “It’s critical that voting be accessible for everybody but not at the expense of security and the risk of a group of people having their votes manipulated,” said Penny Venetis, director of Rutgers University Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic, which is challenging the use of online voting on behalf of Coalition for Peace and its New Jersey division as well as a state legislator.

New Jersey: Questions Remain About Whether Murphy Will Delay Primary, Use Mail-in Balloting | Colleen O’Dea/NJ Spotlight

This year’s primary election for seats representing New Jersey in Congress will feature contests that involve either one or both of the major parties in nearly all districts as well as the battle for Democratic U.S. Sen. Cory Booker’s seat. What isn’t known now is how and when the primary, typically held on the first Tuesday in June, will take place. State officials are evaluating the situation, given the current state of emergency due to the spread of COVID-19, and are expected to make a decision soon. So far, Gov. Phil Murphy has declined to change the date of the primary, now scheduled for June 2, but he could choose to delay the vote or have it conducted entirely by mail if he thinks the disease will still be a threat in two months. Murphy already postponed some local and school board elections until May 12 and ordered that all elections by that date be conducted completely by mail-in balloting. Some states, including Pennsylvania and Connecticut, have postponed their primaries until June 2. That traditionally had been the last primary date for the presidential election, which is also this year. But other states have pushed their voting even further back — Louisiana until June 20, for instance, and New York and Kentucky until June 23.

New Jersey: Counting all-Vote by Mail election votes has challenges, state attorney general says | David Wildstein/New Jersey Globe

The state attorney general is recommending that county election boards maintain video and audio recordings when they count vote-by-mail ballots for the May 12 elections, according to a memo obtained by the New Jersey Globe that responded to a series of questions from election officials. Nearly 730,000 New Jersey voters in 31 municipalities will receive mail-in ballots for local elections in the state’s first all-VBM elections ordered by Gov. Phil Murphy in response to curbing the spread of the deadly coronavirus pandemic. Election officials will practice social distancing to count ballots “to the extent followed,” according to deputy attorneys general Susan Scott and George Cohen. “Consideration should be given to an electronic means of video/audio viewing of the counting. This should be determined in consultation with the Department of Health and in keeping with the recommendations for social distancing,” they said. Counties will not be permitted to begin counting mail-in ballots before May 12.

New Jersey: Governor announcing major changes to election schedule | David Wildstein/New Jersey Globe

Gov. Phil Murphy is expected to announce significant changes to New Jersey’s upcoming elections as part of a plan to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus pandemic, although there is still no determination of changes for the June primary election, the New Jersey Globe has learned. That includes rescheduling March special elections and April school board elections, and requiring all May 12 non-partisan municipal elections be held with only vote-by-mail ballots with no polling locations open. Murphy has delayed a decision to postpone the June 2 primary election, or to shift it to all-VBM.  Both options remain on the table, according to sources familiar with the governor’s plans to sign an executive order today. “We will not hesitate to act if the emergency requires us to do so,” Murphy said.  “We want to make sure everyone is safe in voting.” Executive Order # 105 is expected to include an online portal to submit petitions, and will give county chairs the option of holding county committee elections in 2020 or extending their terms and postponing those contests until 2021.

New Jersey: ExpressVote XL Will Make Debut in Middlesex Count on March 10 | Charlie Kratovil/New Brunswick Today

On March 10, the citizens of Edison and Woodbridge will be casting ballots on new electronic voting machines for the first time in over two decades. While some of the Middlesex County’s new “ExpressVote XL” machines have already arrived at the Board of Elections warehouse in Edison, the bulk of the $7.6 million equipment purchase is set to arrive in the coming weeks. The former voting machines have been stripped down and will soon be on their way to a local landfill, according to elections officials. The county’s Board of Chosen Freeholders approved the purchase in February 2019, but it’s taken a long time for the transition to finally move ahead, under the leadership of new Elections Administrator Thomas Lynch. The 720 new machines include “touchscreens” and produce a paper record for every vote. That’s more than enough for each of the county’s voting districts to have its own machine in use on the same day. The county also purchased 720 “electronic poll books” and two “high speed image scanners” from the same vendor that is providing the machines: Nebraska-based Election Systems & Software (ES&S).

New Jersey: New Jersey will soon allow you to register to vote online | Brent Johnson and Matt Arco/

Looking to register to vote in New Jersey? You will soon be able to do it online under a bill Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law Tuesday. The new law (S589) requires the Garden State’s secretary of state to create and maintain a secure website to allow eligible voters to register to vote using an online form. It takes effect in June. It’s the latest move Murphy and his fellow Democrats who control the state Legislature have made to open up voting in New Jersey. They have also expanding mail-in voting, made voter registration automatic when you apply for a driver’s license, and restored voting rights to people on probation and parole. New Jersey is the 38th state to institute online voter registration, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The District of Columbia also has it and Oklahoma is phasing in a similar program.

New Jersey: Lawmaker Backs Away from Allowing Early Tabulation of Mail-In Ballots | Nancy Solomon/WNYC

A New Jersey lawmaker is backing away from a proposal that would have allowed the state’s 21 counties to count vote-by-mail ballots one week before Election Day. The provision is buried in a bill sponsored by state Sen. James Beach (D-Cherry Hill). The stated purpose of the bill is to give county clerks more time to prepare for the 2020 primary. But the provision allowing each county’s Board of Elections to open and count mail-in ballots a week early has drawn the ire of some progressive activists. “We’re calling it legalized cheating,” said Yael Niv, president of the Good Government Coalition of New Jersey. County elections staff are often closely tied to party machines in the state. Under the proposed legislation, early results are supposed to be confidential. But Niv said she’s worried that candidates backed by the machine could gain an edge and better direct their resources if county employees share the early vote totals. “They have a whole week to send their canvassers, to send their pamphlets, and the money, and the ads and everything that they need to those places,” Niv said.

New Jersey: Murphy undecided on measure allowing early mail ballot counting | Nikita Biryukov/New Jersey Globe

Gov. Phil Murphy isn’t backing or opposing a bill that would allow mail-in ballots to be counted in the week preceding election day. “I don’t think we’ve taken a position on that,” the governor said. The measure’s primary stated goal is moving the filing deadline for candidates back from April to March to avoid overtime bills at county clerks’ offices. The bill’s language appears to have been written with the intent that only ballots cast in the 2020 primaries be counted a week before polls open. Some activists and Republican lawmakers have raised alarms over the measure, claiming political insiders could leak early returns to better inform campaign strategy in the closing week of the election. Under the measure, results are not to be disclosed until after polls close, but leaks aren’t exactly uncommon in New Jersey politics.

New Jersey: Questions of vulnerability surround New Jersey’s aging voting machines | Rob Anthes/Community News

In 2004, Hopewell resident Stephanie Harris went to her polling place for the presidential primary, never expecting what was about to happen would alter her life and the public discourse around voter security for the next decade and a half. When Harris entered the privacy booth that day, she saw one of Mercer County’s then-new touchscreen voting machines facing her, a model called the Sequoia AVC Advantage. She found her candidate of choice on the large paper ballot overlay, pressed the box next to the candidate’s name and then hit a large button at the bottom right of the machine to cast her vote. Typically, at this point, the AVC Advantage will make a noise to indicate a vote has been counted. For Harris, nothing happened. Harris exited the privacy booth slightly confused. A poll worker stopped her, and said her vote didn’t register and that she should try again. Harris did, four times with the same results. After the fifth time, the poll worker shrugged, and said, “Well, I think it worked.” Harris never received definitive confirmation her vote had been cast. To this day, she doesn’t know whether the machine recorded her vote. Harris couldn’t shake the feeling that her vote had been taken away. She asked the county for confirmation or at least an explanation. She didn’t get answers, but she did earn a new nickname, courtesy of a county freeholder—“the Incident in Hopewell.” So she sued.

New Jersey: Activists press for federal support to upgrade New Jersey’s vulnerable voting machines | Briana Vannozzi/NJTV News

Progressive activists on Tuesday called for an overhaul of New Jersey’s voting system, saying that the lack of a paper backup to the electronic machines at the polls in many counties could undermine the faith of voters that their ballots will be counted. “This is our most important fundamental right, the right to vote,” said Marcia Marley, president of BlueWave NJ. “And if it doesn’t count, why vote?” The activists are also looking to put pressure on federal lawmakers to approve $600 million for election security funding at the state level. The allocation has already been approved by the Democratic-majority House of Representatives but has failed to get any traction in the upper house, which is controlled by the GOP and led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican. Carrying signs that read “Moscow Mitch” and “Protect Our Elections,” the activists gathered outside the offices of the state’s two Democratic senators, Cory Booker and Robert Menendez. “Robert Mueller explained that the threat of foreign intervention in our elections is very much still alive and probably escalating for the 2020 elections,” said BlueWave NJ member Mark Lurinsky, referencing testimony before Congress by the former Special Counsel to the Justice Department who investigated Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election.

New Jersey: New Jersey and Homeland Security are teaming up to spot potential election security risks | Dustin Racioppi/

State and federal officials plan a daylong series of exercises Tuesday to assess New Jersey’s election security and spot potential weaknesses ahead of voting in November. New Jersey’s Division of Elections is partnering with the U.S. Office of Homeland Security to conduct what is known as the Election Security Tabletop Exercise. The two offices routinely work together on election security, but the event planned for Tuesday is the first of its kind in New Jersey, officials said, bringing together representatives from all of the state’s 21 counties as well as those from 13 other states. In addition, former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and current U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Christopher Krebs will address the hundreds of people expected to attend, according to an advisory detailing the event.

New Jersey: State’s Department of Homeland Security warned Russians could interfere in our elections next year. Trump’s not worried. | Jonathan D. Salant/

New Jersey’s Department of Homeland Security has warned state and county elections officials that Russia or another foreign actor could hijack their websites or social media accounts, “severely impacting and eroding confidence in the election results.” The warning, which went to elections officials on the state level and in all 21 counties, was contained in a bulletin sent earlier this month by the state Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Cell. The state agency acted after the Senate Intelligence Committee warned about “Russian intentions to undermine the credibility of the election process” and a civil grand jury in San Mateo County, California, warned of hackers using government accounts to report false election results or issue false voting instructions. “The threat of foreign interference in our elections is a pressing national security issue,” said Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-11th Dist., chairwoman of the House Science subcommittee on investigations and oversight, which held a hearing last month to highlight problems with state elections systems.