N.J. voters displaced from their homes should be allowed to print out their ballots, lawsuit says

Advocacy groups are asking a judge to order New Jersey to accommodate voters who were displaced from their homes during the coronavirus pandemic and didn’t receive a mail-in ballot.



a hand holding a book: Somerset County election ballot and voting instructions in Bridgewater, N.J. October, 3, 2020 r


© Ed Murray | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com/Ed Murray | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com/nj.com/TNS
Somerset County election ballot and voting instructions in Bridgewater, N.J. October, 3, 2020 r

The state should give voters the opportunity to receive the same kind of electronically-delivered ballot used for the military, voters who live overseas and disabled voters, the lawsuit said.

The suit, filed Wednesday in state Superior Court in Mercer County by the League of Women Voters of New Jersey and ACLU-NJ, demands the state provide this kind of ballot to displaced voters who do not receive their mail-in ballots by Oct. 30.

“As of now, displaced New Jerseyans have to wait at their mailbox in hopes that the ballot they requested will arrive in time. If it doesn’t, they will be disenfranchised,” said Jeanne LoCicero, ACLU-NJ’s legal director. “The state has an obligation to allow voters to exercise their rights.”

Many of these voters were displaced within New Jersey or out-of-state and tried unsuccessfully to get a ballot mailed to their temporary address, the complaint says.

The lawsuit says that if voters are not sent their ballots by Oct. 30, they should be able to electronically receive a blank ballot, which they could then print out, complete and mail back to the county, “averting any concern about electronic interference.”

“This is precisely the process that defendants have agreed is appropriate for voters with disabilities,” it said.

The suit said during the July primary, this kind of remedy wasn’t offered to displaced voters. Thirty percent of complaints from New Jerseyans to the national Election Protection call center came from people who did not receive the ballot despite active voter registrations and good faith efforts, it said.

“The state has already taken large-scale efforts to accommodate an extraordinarily challenging election, and ensuring displaced voters receive the ballots they need must be a part of that response to adequately protect the right to vote,” said Jesse Burns, executive director of the League of Women Voters.

State officials didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

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Karin Price Mueller may be reached at [email protected]

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