Former White House spokesman Sean Spicer testified there were no signs keeping Republican National Committee staff members away from Donald Trump’s vote-counting operations on Election Night, but party officials knew to keep their distance. “It had been abundantly clear for the six years that I worked at the RNC that the RNC and its employees were prohibited from engaging in Election Day activities, including poll watching, so I intentionally stayed away from all of that,” said Spicer, then a top Republican National Committee official. Spicer’s testimony came as the Republican National Committee sought to end limits on its voter activities imposed 35 years ago as a result of GOP activities in the 1981 New Jersey gubernatorial election narrowly won by Thomas H. Kean. That consent decree expired Dec. 1, but Democrats are seeking to extend it.
Articles about voting issues in New Jersey.
The 2020 Census is about two years away, but researchers already fear that not every person will be accurately counted. The Census Bureau, which every 10 years conducts its actual count of people as mandated by the U.S. Constitution, has been plagued with problems ranging from budget issues, cancelled tests and a leadership vacuum that has become unusually politicized. It is especially worrisome in New Jersey, which has growing communities of color and immigrant populations that could effectively be disenfranchised, experts say.
More than 94,000 New Jersey residents with criminal convictions are prohibited from voting, but civil rights groups are pushing for that to change. Blacks make up about 15 percent of New Jersey’s population, but represent about half of those who cannot vote because of a criminal conviction. That disproportionately reduces the political power of black communities, said state Sen. Ron Rice, because of systemic racism in the criminal justice system. “I believe that every New Jerseyan and every public official concerned with the integrity and legitimacy of our democracy should be ashamed that this practice was born in 1844 at a time when slavery was legal and practiced in our state and has continued for 170 years,” said Rice, D-Essex.
State Sen. Ron Rice (D-Essex) on Thursday said he plans to introduce legislation next year that would allow convicted felons, those on probation, people on parole and incarcerated individuals to vote in elections, a bill that would dramatically alter current New Jersey law that prohibits those with criminal convictions from voting. “I will be calling on Governor-elect Phil Murphy and my colleagues to join me,” Rice said. “I ask for their support of our bill to sever the anti-democratic link between the right to vote and the criminal justice system.” A recent report from the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice found that New Jersey currently prohibits 94,000 individuals from voting due to criminal history or incarceration. The report found that a disproportionate amount of those disenfranchized by the voting law are African American. In New Jersey, about 15 percent of the total population is black but about 50 percent of those currently incarcerated in the state are black.
This month’s local and state elections brought the usual dismal news about voter turnout: Fewer than one in four New Yorkers went to the polls. In New Jersey, less than 40 percent did. Virginia had its highest turnout in 20 years and still didn’t clear 50 percent. Even in presidential elections, four in 10 voters stay home. Low turnout rates are partly a reflection of human nature: Voting requires us to suspend logic, since one ballot rarely decides an election, and believe in the power of collective action. That belief is being tested by an increasingly individualistic society, where we are more isolated from our neighbors and less connected to civic organizations. But it’s now also being tested by a most unlikely foe: voting-rights advocates.
New Jersey: Pols Push for Voting Machines that Offer Paper Trail for Every Ballot Cast | NJ Spotlight
Voters across New Jersey are going to polling places today to pick a new governor, select candidates for seats in the state Legislature, and to decide many contested county and municipal elections. But questions have been raised in recent weeks about whether the electronic machines that will be used to count the vote in many places in New Jersey are vulnerable to computer error or even hacking, and lawmakers are pushing for the machines to eventually be upgraded so there’s a “voter-verified” paper trail to back up each vote that is cast on Election Day. To be sure, there’s been no evidence of any widespread voting-machine failure or large-scale tampering leading up to today’s elections in New Jersey, and election officials say there have been no recorded cases of an electronic-voting machine having been hacked in New Jersey during any recent election. What’s more, the machines themselves are not attached to any network so hacking would have to occur in person rather than remotely. But a Princeton University computer-science professor opened the eyes of lawmakers by showing them during a recent hearing in Trenton how voting machines that are used in 18 of New Jersey’s 21 counties could theoretically be hacked manually by someone seeking to make sure an election turns out in a specific way.
New Jersey: Bad voting machines replaced with bad voting machines, forcing use of paper ballots in Allentown | app
Voting machines here have been inoperable all morning, after faulty machines were replaced with new ones that also didn’t work, an election official said. “Voters are voting on emergency ballots,’’ said Allan Roth, chairman of the Monmouth County Board of Elections. “No voter has been turned away. They’re just voting on paper ballots.’’ Software problems were discovered in the borough’s four voting machines early this morning, around 6 a.m., Roth said.
Boardwalk “claw” machines. Laundry scales. Boiled linseed oil. All three are subject to more state regulation than voting machines in New Jersey. And with Tuesday’s election for governor — one of the first two statewide contests in the U.S. since last year’s presidential race — some voting-rights activists are expressing concern that New Jersey’s vote could be vulnerable. Despite consumer-protection laws that mandate testing of pharmacy scales, gas pumps, amusement park rides and hundreds of other types of equipment — and regulations governing everything from the size of peach baskets to the temperature at which commercial linseed oil must be boiled — the state has comparatively few regulations on voting machines. It does not require machines to leave a verifiable paper trail. Nor does it mandate audits of elections. New Jersey does limit the types of voting machines counties can choose from, but leaves it to counties to test the machines.
Many of the 11,000 voting machines in New Jersey are so old, officials said, they will soon have to be replaced. Amid concerns about hacking, state lawmakers are examining how to make sure new machines will be more secure. While there’s no evidence of hacking, the machines are hackable, said Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, D-Middlesex. And Princeton computer science professor Andrew Appel said he could quickly break the security seals on a voting machine, replace the chip that records the results, and reseal it so the tampering would be undetectable. “I was able to get a bunch of them and figure out what their weaknesses are,” he said during a hearing before lawmakers Thursday. “So if you have three or four seals on there, it’ll take me 10 minutes to get them off.”
In his Princeton University office, computer science professor Andrew Appel held up a small computer chip from a New Jersey voting machine. It’s the program that tallies your vote behind the curtain, inside the polling booth. It’s used in every single voting machine in 18 out of New Jersey’s 21 counties. It’s also outdated technology, and if you really wanted to, it’s not all that difficult to hack. “If you put a fraudulent program that adds up the votes a different way, you can install it in the voting machine by prying out the legitimate chip in there now and installing this fraudulent chip in the socket,” he said. Appel knows because he did it. Almost all of New Jersey’s 11,000 computerized voting machines are AVC Advantage systems. The Mercer County Board of Elections has a warehouse where the systems have been decertified in most of the country, but not here.