Attorney General Matthew Platkin has set up a vigorous Voter Protection Initiative to protect the integrity of the November general election, setting up safeguards to advocate on behalf of voters who might face disenfranchisement and prevent voter fraud and illegal election acts.
Platkin’s plan establishes a mechanism to assist the electorate in the resolution of voting-related legal matters.
The Voter Protection Initiative sets up a parallel system that will function independently from the Division of Law, which represents county elections officials and the Secretary of State. The move potentially sets up a skirmish between different branches of the attorney generals office so that the interests of New Jersey voters will be represented by the state and not just the officials and offices that oversee the electoral process.
“The right to vote is sacred, and we will do everything in our power to safeguard that right,” Platkin said. “Now more than ever, it is critical that we ensure that New Jerseyans do not face intimidation, discrimination, or harassment when exercising their constitutional right to vote.”
Voters who need to appear before a judge during early voting or on Election Day will now have an advocate to ensure their voting rights are guarded, rather than face a deputy attorney only defending the interests of election officials.
According to Platkin, the Voter Protection Initiative will protect voting rights and civil rights violations that could occur during early voting and on Election Day. The attorney general’s office intends to aggressively enforce the New Jersey Civil Rights Act and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, even if means taking legal action against state and county election officials.
He said the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) will monitor the election to protect voters from intimidation, along with enforcing state laws on electioneering and fraud, with the intent to report any incidents of election interference to federal and local law enforcement agencies. Platkin is also ordering the state Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Cell to watch for cyber and physical election security threats.
“Our Department’s initiatives to protect the right to vote during this election will ensure that every eligible voter will be able to cast a ballot, and that anyone who attempts to interfere with the voting process will be held accountable to the full extent of the law,” stated Platkin.
The Attorney General’s Law Enforcement Guidance for Elections has already been issued to local law enforcement officials throughout New Jersey by the OPIA.
Hundreds of attorneys from the Division of Law will work in shifts to “answer emergent questions from county elections officials to ensure that all eligible voters can cast their ballots quickly, freely, and fairly in accordance with New Jersey’s election laws,” according to a statement from the attorney general’s office.
Early voting starts on Saturday, October 29 and goes through Sunday, November 6.
In a bid to provide New Jerseyans with a resource on voting-related questions and issues, Platkin’s office has created a new webpage — https://www.njoag.gov/electionprotection/ — that will help voters report challenges they face while attempting to vote.
Anyone who believes their vote has been interfered with, or seeks to report voting-related issues, can call the New Jersey Voter Information and Assistance line toll-free at 1-877-NJVOTER. Voters who feel they have faced discrimination or harassment in pursuit of their right to vote can also file a report with the Division on Civil Rights through the NJ BIAS online portal — https://bias.njcivilrights.gov — or may call 1-800-277-BIAS (1-800-277-2427). Urgent complaints concerning allegations of discrimination or harassment filed with the Division on Civil Rights may be addressed during the election or after the election.