New Jersey

Articles about voting issues in New Jersey.

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).

Full Article: New Voting Machines Will Make Debut in Edison and Woodbridge on March 10 - New Brunswick Today.

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

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.

Full Article: N.J. will soon allow you to register to vote online - nj.com.

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.

Full Article: NJ Lawmaker Backs Away from Allowing Early Tabulation of Mail-In Ballots | WNYC News | WNYC.

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.

Full Article: Murphy undecided on measure allowing early VBM counting - New Jersey Globe.

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.

Full Article: Questions of vulnerability surround New Jersey's aging voting machines.

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.