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Chief Justice Stuart Rabner. (Photo by Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe).

Courts will allow remote appearances for voters turned away on Election Day

Rasmsussen tells voters to advocate for themselves: ‘Do not leave the polling location without either casting a provisional ballot or getting clear direction on how to go before a judge’

By David Wildstein, October 31 2022 9:09 pm

If a voter is turned away from their polling location and believes election officials are in error, Superior Court Judges will be available to hear their arguments remotely without the need for an appearance at the county courthouse.

A spokesman for the Administrative Office of the Courts said on Monday that judges will be available this week, through the weekend, and on Election Day to hear issues regarding voter disenfranchisement or other issues relating to violations of New Jersey election law.

Micah Rasmussen, the director of the Rebovich Institute of New Jersey Politics at Rider University, praised the judiciary’s decision to embrace new technology as a way to make it easier for voters to cast participate in the electoral process.

“Several years ago, before judges were holding Election Day matters remotely, a family member’s new registration got lost in the mail, and we had to go in front of a judge sitting in Freehold.  It was easy, straightforward and not a bit intimidating,” Rasmussen said.  “Now that you don’t need to drive to the county courthouse, it is easier than ever.

Rasmussen encouraged voters to fight efforts to deny them the right to vote.

“The laws really are designed to let voters vote, but your responsibility is to advocate for yourself,” he stated.  “If you’re a registered voter, do not leave the polling location without either casting a provisional ballot or getting clear direction on how to go before a judge.”

Voters who need help to reach the courts can call the Supreme Court emergency application at (609) 273-3150.

During the June primary, an 82-year-old Manalapan woman was turned away from the polls after poll workers said she could not vote as a Republican because she was registered as a Libertarian.

Records show that Ann P. Ciaccio registered as a member of the Libertarian Party in August 2020 while applying for identification at the Motor Vehicles Commission, which acknowledged in that year that a computer glitch had assigned some voters the wrong party.

Ciaccio said she had no recollection of registering as a Libertarian and never intended to affiliate with that party.  She testified that she was not seeking to perpetrate any fraud, but rather to protect her right to vote.

Superior Court Judge Mara Zazzali-Hogan allowed Ciaccio to vote by provisional ballot, and finding her testimony to be credible,” ordered her provisional ballot to be counted and that her party affiliation “revert to her prior registration as a Republican.”

“The right to vote would be empty indeed if it did not include the right of choice for whom to vote,” Zazzali-Hogan said in June.

Attorney General Matt 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.

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.

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