Home>Campaigns>Some voters could be disenfranchied after N.J. motor vehicles refuses to have anyone available for Election Day challenges

Acting New Jersey Motor Vehicles Commission Chief Administrator Latrecia Littles-Floyd. (Photo: Latrecia Littles-Floyd).

Some voters could be disenfranchied after N.J. motor vehicles refuses to have anyone available for Election Day challenges

As computer glitch drops some voter address changes, MVC passes the buck and won’t send a single employee to help election officials on Tuesday

By David Wildstein, November 04 2022 2:03 pm

Some voters face the possibility of being denied the right to vote in next week’s general election because the New Jersey Motor Vehicles Commission is closed on Election Day and refuses to send a skeleton crew in to handle glitches with voter registration issues they handle that could help some avoid being disenfranchised.

The state has acknowledged some glitches in their computer system led to a Flemington man nearly losing his right to vote in the current election because his change of address last February, including a “skip the trip” option that allowed him to update his voter registration online.   But the MVC never notified election officials of the address change, leaving him without a valid voter registration.

Now, acting Motor Vehicles Commission Administrator Latrecia Littles-Floyd is declining to staff her office on Election Day, a state holiday, even if it that results in New Jerseyans being unable to vote this year.

“MVC will not provide additional resources on Election Day this year to address incorrect voter registration information, as voter rolls are maintained by County Commissioners of Registration,” said William Conolly, a spokesman for Littles-Floyd.

In the court hearing on Wednesday, Hunterdon County Board of Elections administrator Beth Thompson testified that she was able to confirm with the MVC that John M. Patten had used the “skip the line” feature on the motor vehicles to change his address from Somerset County, including an option to change his voter registration address.

Thompson was able to speak with someone at MVC by telephone, who was able to confirm that Patten’s representations were accurate.   That enabled Thompson to explain that to a judge.

“This is a glitch in the system,” she said.  “He satisfied what he needed to do.”

But the MVC has steadfastly refused to remain in their offices until early voting ended at 8 PM each day this week.  They will not have anyone available to assist election officials during early voting on Saturday and Sunday, and plan to be closed entirely on Election Day.

Instead, Connolly passed the buck to county election officials and the state Division of Elections.  He said voters who face similar challenges to Patten should call the Secretary of State’s voter hotline at 1-877-NJ-VOTER.

“New Jerseyans are encouraged to check their voter registration status with their County Superintendent or Board of Elections or at https://voter.svrs.nj.gov/registration-check,” Connolly said.

The state Motor Vehicle Commisison became involved in election matters in 2018 after Gov. Phil Murphy signed a new law allowing voters to register to vote at MVC agencies.  That makes their refusal to provide some staffing on Election Day  inexplicable.

Six county election officials told the New Jersey Globe on Friday that only the MVC can confirm if a voter is caught up in the glitch, since they only have access to information that is transmitted to them by the MVC and not to dates where an individual changed their address.

“This is like VEEP stuff,” said one individual with knowledge of Board of Elections operations, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.  “This is just stupid.”

Littles-Floyd, who replaced embattled MVC boss Sue Fulton earlier this year, declined to address the problem in a call with the New Jecrrsey Globe at 9:02 this morning.

“I don’t accept work calls on my personal cell,” Littles-Floyd said.  She promised to call back from her work phone but has not.

The Superior Court judge who ordered election officials to allow Patten to vote was critical of the MVC role in potentially disenfranchising voters.

“This system is plagued with glitches,” said Judge William G. Mennen IV on Wednesday. “It gets lost in Motor Vehicle Commissioner Never Never Land.”

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