New Jersey

Articles about voting issues in New Jersey.

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.

New Jersey: New mail-in ballot law could cause confusion at the polls | NJTV

County workers are stuffing envelopes with mail-in ballots, and they’re stuffing a lot of envelopes. Thanks to a new state law, every voter who got a mail-in ballot in 2016 will automatically get one this year, unless they opt out in writing. So where Monmouth County expected to send out up to 20,000 mail-in ballots, it will now have to send out more than 30,000. “That part of the law, that new change, has been difficult to implement in such a short time period because vote by mail ballots start going out Sept. 22. It’s not like we have until November to implement a law that was enacted in August. We basically had a month,” said Monmouth County Clerk Christine Giordano Hanlon. Gov. Phil Murphy signed the law in August, arguing that expanding mail-in voting, or what used to be known as an absentee ballot, would expand voter participation. County clerks, however, say they had just weeks to comply with the law, without additional resources to do so.

Full Article: New mail-in ballot law could cause confusion at the polls | Video | NJTV News.

New Jersey: There’s Money for Upgrading Election Security but Little for Vital Paper Trail | NJ Spotlight

Despite expert opinion that, without paper ballots, New Jersey’s election system is far from secure, state allots negligible amount to remedy that weakness. New Jersey plans to spend $10.2 million to enhance election security over the next several years, but will use only part of it to conduct a small pilot project involving what some experts say is the most important change the state needs to make: moving to a system of paper ballots. The Center for American Progress has rated New Jersey’s election system among the least secure in the nation, in large part because there is no way to independently audit ballot results should a hacker meddle with the programming of one or more election machines. Pending legislation (A-3991) calls for the state to upgrade its voting machines to ones that have a paper trail and county clerks agree that change is needed. New Jersey is only taking the smallest step in that direction.

Full Article: There’s Money for Upgrading NJ Election Security but Little for Vital Paper Trail - NJ Spotlight.

New Jersey: Democrats’ bill pushes Murphy to move faster on new voting machines | NJ101.5

Legislation introduced by Statehouse Democrats setting a requirement for how much in federal election security funds must be used for new voting machines would put the minimum at nearly twice as much as Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration is planning. Sen. Shirley Turner, D-Mercer, said she has heard from constituents who want to ensure elections are protected from errors or manipulation. She is among the sponsors of a bill requiring New Jersey to use at least half of any federal election funds it gets for safer voting systems. Turner was surprised that the state plans to spend $2.5 million of the nearly $9.8 million in Help America Vote Act funds it will soon receive on voting machines, with nearly three-quarters of the funds directed to other priorities.

Full Article: Dems' bill pushes Murphy to move faster on new voting machines.

New Jersey: ‘A drop in the bucket’: State to spend $10M on election security | New Jersey101.5

The Murphy administration has decided how it will spend $10.2 million on election security initiatives, mostly federal aid that will pay for cybersecurity, database improvements and auditing the accuracy of election machines. Among the uses for the funds will be implementing automatic voter registration at the state’s Motor Vehicle Commission agencies and helping some counties acquire voting machines that create a voter-verified paper audit trail. Among the 13 states with paperless voting machines, only Indiana and Texas are committing a smaller percentage of their new Help America Vote Act funds toward voting equipment than the $2.5 million New Jersey plans to spend. “The state’s plan to spend the HAVA funds I think is really thorough, but it’s important to note that the amount of funds that they’re talking about is really just a drop in the bucket to what they really need to update our election systems,” said Jesse Burns, the executive director of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey. The funding includes $9.76 million in federal funds, part of $380 million in grants the federal Election Assistance Commission is making available through a law enacted in March, and $487,873 in required state matching funds.

Full Article: 'A drop in the bucket': NJ to spend $10M on election security.

New Jersey: State spending $10M to fix one of most vulnerable voting systems in US | NorthJersey.com

With less than three months until a midterm election that could shift control of the House, New Jersey is planning to spend nearly $10 million in federal money it received this spring to strengthen what is widely considered one of the most vulnerable voting systems in the country. But the grant money from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission is a fraction of what’s needed to improve the state’s election infrastructure from the threats federal officials say are being directed at the U.S., leaving New Jersey susceptible to outside influence when it may also serve as a Congressional battleground. While election officials across the state remain confident that hacking or voting fraud is unlikely — or at least detectable — the 2016 presidential election showed that outside forces are constantly coming up with novel ways to infiltrate the country’s election systems and disrupt one of the most sacred rituals of democracy. “It’s very likely we’ll be susceptible to hacking,” said Aquene Freechild, co-director of a voting campaign for Public Citizen, a liberal nonprofit advocacy group based in Washington, D.C. “The problem in New Jersey is you wouldn’t know if there was a hack or not.”

Full Article: NJ spending $10M to fix one of most vulnerable voting systems in US.

New Jersey: State sought more money to protect voting machines from hackers. Republicans in Congress said no. | NJ.com

New Jersey’s voting machines are among the nation’s most vulnerable to hacking, and state officials asked Congress for more money to protect their equipment. Republicans who run the show in Washington said no. Both the House and Senate declined to allocate millions of dollars in grants to states when they passed spending bills funding the Election Assistance Commission for the 12-month period beginning Oct. 1. “This is going to be an ongoing need and election officials are going to need a regular stream of funds to combat the threats and defend their systems,” said David Becker, executive director and founder of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, a Washington research group. …  State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal sought more federal help. “I strongly believe that the federal government should be doing more, not less, to ensure our democratic institutions are free from foreign intrusion, and I’m disappointed that Congress disagrees,” he said.

Full Article: N.J. sought more money to protect voting machines from hackers. Republicans in Congress said no. | NJ.com.

New Jersey: How secure are New Jersey’s voting machines from hacking? This report may worry you. | NJ.com

New Jersey has some of the weakest election security in the country, according to a congressional report that placed the blame on former Gov. Chris Christie. New Jersey was named one of the five most vulnerable states to hacking in the report by the Democratic members of the House Administration Committee. The report said New Jersey’s voting machines do not have a paper record, making it “nearly impossible” to tell if they had been hacked and vote tallied changed. It said the state has requested funds from the federal Election Assistance Commission to improve security, and is considering legislation to require a paper trail for all voting machines. The other states with the worst security were Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana and South Carolina. In all, 18 states were vulnerable to hacking, the report said.

Full Article: How secure are New Jersey's voting machines from hacking? This report may worry you. | NJ.com.