New Jersey

Articles about voting issues in New Jersey.

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.

Full Article: Activists press for federal support to upgrade NJ’s vulnerable voting machines | Video | NJTV News.

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

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.

Full Article: NJ election officials to be trained to spot election security risks.

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

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.

Full Article: N.J. warned Russians could interfere in our elections next year. Trump’s not worried. - nj.com.

New Jersey: On Eve of Primaries, New Jersey Is at Early Stage of Shoring Up Election Security | NJ Spotlight

New Jersey wasn’t one of the 21 states whose electoral systems were targeted by Russian hackers in 2016, but it has weaknesses at both state and county level. With less a month to go before this year’s primary elections, New Jersey officials are continuing to fortify state and county election infrastructure, including the addition of more new voting machines with a verifiable paper trail, to ensure the integrity of elections. Secretary of State Tahesha Way, who oversees elections, told the budget committees of both houses of the Legislature last week that while New Jersey was not one of the 21 states that Russian hackers targeted or scanned in 2016, the state is taking several steps to prevent any unwanted access to its election systems. Her department has also been working with counties to assess the security of their machines and data. “The soundness of our elections sits at the top of my agenda,” Way told lawmakers, several of whom expressed concern about the safety of the state’s election infrastructure and whether she is getting enough money to fund necessary security upgrades. “The Department of State has been extremely proactive on election security and has become recognized for these election integrity efforts,” Way said. New Jersey received almost $9.8 million in federal funds through the Help America Vote Act, and is matching that with about $500,000, to spend over five years updating and enhancing the security of voting machines and systems. DOS has some leeway in deciding how to spend the money and has outlined how it expects to do so.

Full Article: On Eve of Primaries, NJ Is at Early Stage of Shoring Up Election Security - NJ Spotlight.

New Jersey: Who will pay to upgrade New Jersey’s voting technology? | WKXW

Counties are preparing to adopt the latest in election technology – but progress could depend on whether and when the state pays for the upgrade. As part of their effort to get lawmakers, freeholders and others familiar with what’s available, the New Jersey Association of Election Officials recently held a trade show at the Trenton War Memorial showing off the current state of technology – items common in some states but rare, for now, in New Jersey. Cape May County Clerk Rita Fulginiti said the pace for the updates will depend on state law and state funding. “It will cost a lot to upgrade to better equipment, but it’s all about the voter and making voting systems accessible to the voter,” Fulginiti said. New Jersey would need to spend $64 million to upgrade all the voting machines in the state, New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice estimates.

Full Article: Who will pay to upgrade NJ's voting technology?.

New Jersey: New Jersey was going to have paper-based voting machines more than a decade ago. Will it happen by 2020? | Philadelphia Inquirer

New Jersey was once poised to become a national leader in election and voting security. Instead, it now lags most states — including Pennsylvania and Delaware — by relying on aging, paperless machines that experts say are vulnerable to attack and can’t be properly audited. There are no statewide plans to buy new machines; nor is the state urging counties to buy new systems, in contrast to Pennsylvania, where Gov. Tom Wolf has ordered all 67 counties to have new machines by next year’s primary election. “We are doing what we can with the funding that we have and the situation that we’re in,” said Robert Giles, who heads the state’s Division of Elections. The challenge, he said, is funding. Counties are left to their own initiatives. But the current machines are nearing death. The money will have to come from somewhere, said Jesse Burns, head of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey. “Time, it has run out. So there’s no more kicking it down the road,” she said.

Full Article: N.J. was going to have paper-based voting machines more than a decade ago. Will it happen by 2020?.

New Jersey: New voting machines being tried in districts across the state | NorthJersey.com

A decade after New Jersey voters were promised more secure voting machines, some districts will receive new machines through a federally funded pilot program. Voters in Gloucester, Union and Essex counties have already seen new machines, and Passaic County intends to join the pilot this year. Meanwhile, Bergen County officials are taking a wait-and-see approach. Robert Giles, director of the state Division of Elections, wrote to county election officials in September to explain one of the initiatives: the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail pilot. “This pilot program will afford counties the opportunity to purchase and test new VVPAT voting machines,” Giles wrote. “The goal of this pilot program is to assist counties to begin the process of transitioning from their current paperless voting systems to the new voting systems that produce a voter-verifiable paper record of each vote cast.” The program rolls out in a climate of heightened concern over ballot security. “It’s a step forward; there are better ways to do it and worse ways to do it,” Professor Andrew Appel of Princeton University said about the upcoming replacements.

Full Article: New NJ voting machines being tried in districts across the state.

New Jersey: State continues its decade-long stall of securing its voting machines | Press of Atlantic City

New Jersey is one of just five states in which almost none of its voting machines have a way to verify that their results are valid. All the state’s counties but one use machines that record votes directly and only into an electronic memory module. Only small Warren County uses machines that simultaneously record votes on paper, the gold standard nationwide for ensuring that what the computer says is what voters intended. Last year, New Jersey received a $10 million federal grant to help update its voting systems. The administration of Gov. Phil Murphy instead spent the biggest part of the grant on efforts to increase the number of people registered to vote, including signing up anyone at a motor vehicle agency claiming to be a New Jersey citizen, no license or other documentation required. Some of the money funded a tiny pilot program with paper-backup voting machines in small election districts, one each in three counties in the state.

Full Article: NJ continues its decade-long stall of securing its voting machines | Our View | pressofatlanticcity.com.

New Jersey: Legislature considers letting ex-convicts on parole vote in elections | NJ105.1

During his State of the State address earlier this month, Gov. Phil Murphy voiced support for allowing convicted felons to have the right to vote after they’ve been released from prison and are on probation or parole. New Jersey law requires felons to complete their sentence and no longer be on parole or probation in order to be able to register to cast a ballot. Amol Sinha, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, supports the governor’s position. “I don’t think anybody should ever lose the right to vote in this state. If somebody is eligible to vote, they should always be eligible,” Sinha said.

Full Article: NJ considers letting ex-cons on parole vote in elections.

New Jersey: Murphy Calls for Returning Right to Vote to Felons on Probation or Parole | NJ Spotlight

Gov. Phil Murphy wasn’t shy about patting himself and lawmakers on the back in his State of the State speech for making it easier both to register to vote and to cast a ballot. But he also wants to increase the number of registered voters by re-enfranchising felons on probation or parole, a controversial initiative. This marked Murphy’s first public support for the concerted effort, launched last year by a number of progressive advocacy groups and legislators, to undo a 175-year-old law that strips the right to vote from those convicted of serious crimes until they have completed their entire sentence. But the governor stopped short of fully embracing legislation — embodied in S-2100 and A-3456 — that would return the right to vote to those who are incarcerated. “Let’s open the doors to our democracy even wider,” Murphy said toward the end of his speech to a joint session of the Legislature on Tuesday. “Let’s restore voting rights for individuals on probation or parole, so we can further their reentry into society. And we further their reentry into society by allowing them to exercise the most sacred right offered by our society — the right to vote.”

Full Article: Murphy Calls for Returning Right to Vote to Felons on Probation or Parole - NJ Spotlight.

New Jersey: Governor Wants to Give You Fewer Reasons Not to Vote | The New York Times

Ballots disqualified for dubious reasons. Hourslong wait times. Onerous identification requirements. Broken polling stations. The frustrations millions of people experienced during November’s midterm election have made voting rights a polarizing issue, thrusting it to the top of statehouse agendas across the country. While some states are wrestling with expanding voter access, others are seeking to further restrict access to the ballot under the guise of combating voter fraud, which is extremely rare. Now, in New Jersey, Gov. Philip D. Murphy, a Democrat, is pursuing a series of bills that would significantly expand access to the ballot for hundreds of thousands of voters. “The package of reforms in New Jersey would place the state at the forefront of the country in terms of voter access,” said Wendy R. Weiser, the director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. The bills call for changes across the electoral spectrum: allowing online voter registration and early voting up to 30 days before an election; same-day voter registration; permitting those on parole and probation to vote; and making 17-year-olds who turn 18 by the general election eligible to vote in party primaries.

Full Article: N.J.’s Governor Wants to Give You Fewer Reasons Not to Vote - The New York Times.

New Jersey: Progress Seen in Test of Paper-Trail voting Machines that Allow Audit of Results | NJ Spotlight

Review of midterm election offers assurance that electronic vote counts are reliable, but lawmakers show limited interest in deploying the technology statewide. New Jersey’s first pilot tests of voting machines that provide a way to verify results proved successful in the last election, and now some officials are looking forward to expanding testing later. Typically, elections with state Assembly seats topping the ticket — like this coming fall — have low turnouts and so make this an ideal time to roll out new machines. These machines include a paper ballot alongside an electronic screen which both allows voters to check that their choices were properly marked and keeps a paper trail for the elections board. Fewer people casting ballots should help reduce the wait some may experience as voters who may be confused by the new technology take more time on the machine.

Full Article: Progress Seen in Test of Paper-Trail voting Machines that Allow Audit of Results - NJ Spotlight.

New Jersey: Governor calls for redistricting reform | The Hill

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) says he wants to reform the way congressional and legislative districts are drawn in his state, days after legislative leaders canceled a vote on a controversial plan that good government groups called a blatant power grab. In an interview with The Hill, Murphy applauded the decision to shelve the proposed overhaul, despite the fact that it likely would have cemented Democratic control of the state legislature and congressional delegation for years to come. The measure sparked outrage from Republicans, Democrats and groups that advocate for fair district lines. 

Full Article: New Jersey governor calls for redistricting reform | TheHill.

New Jersey: Democratic lawmakers pull controversial redistricting proposal in face of widespread opposition | Philadelphia Inquirer

In another sign that gerrymandering has become a potent political issue, top Democratic lawmakers in New Jersey were forced over the weekend to spike a proposed constitutional amendment that was sold as redistricting reform but would have entrenched their party’s power in Trenton. The plan faced nearly unanimous opposition across the political spectrum, and from good-government lobbies, national Democratic figures, and other interests. It had been scheduled for a vote Monday afternoon in both chambers of the state Legislature. By the time Democratic leaders announced Saturday night that they were pulling the measure, the chorus of detractors had grown to include a number of rank-and-file Democratic lawmakers. Even the No. 2 Senate Democrat, Loretta Weinberg of Bergen County, expressed some hesitation. “There’s something in this bill to affront almost everybody,” she told WNYC hours before the bill was buried. “That’s not always easy to do. But, apparently, that’s what we managed to do.”

Full Article: N.J. Democratic lawmakers pull controversial redistricting proposal in face of widespread opposition.

New Jersey: Democrats cancel vote on controversial redistricting plan | nj.com

Inundated with fierce opposition from across the political spectrum, Democrats who lead the New Jersey Legislature have abruptly shelved a controversial redistricting plan that critics say could bolster their power for decades. Democratic leaders had scheduled a vote for Monday, the final legislative session of the year, at the Statehouse in Trenton. But staring down the possibility the plan might not pass in the face of broad backlash, state Senate President Stephen Sweeney and state Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin announced Saturday night they canceled the vote. That makes it unlikely the proposed constitutional amendment will be placed before voters next year — at least in its current form.

Full Article: Jersey Democrats cancel vote on controversial redistricting plan | nj.com.

New Jersey: State to begin using newer, more secure voting machine – experts say the state is making a new mistake in the process | News12

New Jersey election officials are taking steps to replace the state’s outdated voting machines, which are vulnerable to hacking. But some experts say the state is making a new mistake in the process. Voters in New Jersey use some of the oldest, least secure voting machines in America. Ten years ago, Princeton professor Andrew Appel demonstrated the machines could be hacked. They also produce no paper backup, so Appel says, “You can’t really recount or audit. Whatever the computer says, whether it’s hacked or not, is what you have to rely on.”  That may soon change. New Jersey election director Robert Giles says all 21 county election boards are on board with transitioning to new machines that produce voter-verified paper trails. Enter the ExpressVote XL, being used for the first time next week in Westfield, before being rolled out Union County-wide. County election officials let Kane In Your Corner test the equipment, which features a 32-inch touch screen.

Full Article: KIYC: Union County to begin using newer, more secure voting mach.

New Jersey: Legislation improving voter security clears committee | Monroe Now

In an effort to secure elections and voting in New Jersey, three bills sponsored by Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo and Assemblyman Roy Freiman were advanced by the Assembly State and Local Government Committee on Oct. 18. The first bill (A-3991) sponsored by Mazzeo establishes the “New Jersey Elections Security Act,” which would allow New Jersey to transition to a paper ballot voting system. “New Jersey is only one of a handful of states that uses voting machines and does not provide a paper record, which makes it difficult to detect hacking,” said Mazzeo, D-Atlantic. Since it is evident in the current climate we live in that no federal action will be taken to protect our voters, we must take it upon ourselves to preserve democracy by ensuring safety for voters and allowing them to fairly have a say in their representatives.”

Full Article: Legislation improving voter security clears committee | Elections | monroenow.com.

New Jersey: Is your vote safe? Just 1 New Jersey county can back it up on paper | Asbury Park Press

Nearly all of New Jersey’s 11,000 voting machines are vulnerable to election hacking that could change the outcome of elections across the state, but that is not the worst part of the nightmare scenario feared by security experts. Because the computer-drive voting machines are paperless, no one would know for certain if votes had been changed, the experts say. A USA TODAY NETWORK New Jersey review found that election officials in all counties test the machines for a host of technical issues — do the voting machines turn on, do they correctly count test votes, for example — but there is no independent test that deems them hack-proof. The Network asked for simple proof that the machines were digitally secure: Did independent security experts certify the hardware and software as secure, much the same way a bank or business ensures its money transactions are protected from outsiders?

Full Article: NJ election: Is your vote safe? Just 1 county can back it up on paper.

New Jersey: 10,000 voters got mail-in ballots with errors in them | NJ.com

About 10,000 of the vote-by-mail ballots that the Middlesex County Clerk’s office sent out last weekend contained errors in the recipients’ addresses, authorities said. County Clerk Elaine Flynn said several confused residents called the her office, wondering why their information was listed incorrectly and worried their vote wouldn’t be counted if they sent their ballot back. (One of our very own NJ Advance Media reporters was even the recipient of a wrongly-addressed mailer). “The ballots are valid, and the voters should use the materials they received,” Cassandra Achille, supervisor of the election division, said in a written statement. Achille assured recipients that their returned ballots would be counted.

Full Article: 10,000 N.J. voters got mail-in ballots with errors in them | NJ.com.

New Jersey: Thousands of Voters Received Ballots With Errors, but They’ll Still Count | The New York Times

There were two unusual lines, both confusing and concerning, on Jonathan Latimer’s vote-by-mail ballot: “MAIL 6619” and “BROWN UNIVERSITY.” Neither line is part of his actual address in Middlesex County, N.J., and so Mr. Latimer, 76, who went to college in California many years ago, was concerned the erroneous and random insertions threatened to invalidate his mail-in ballot for November’s midterm elections. If the address on his ballot didn’t match the address the state had on record, he wondered, would it be counted given New Jersey’s strict vote-by-mail requirements? Turns out, Mr. Latimer is not alone. More than 43,000 vote-by-mail ballots were sent out, and the Middlesex County Clerk’s office estimated that “a large percentage of them” contained erroneous address information, though they were not able to give an exact number of affected ballots.

Full Article: Thousands of Voters Received Ballots With Errors, but They’ll Still Count - The New York Times.