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Atlantic Dems sue housing development over canvassing prohibition

Security told Armato, others to leave or be considered trespassing

By Nikita Biryukov, October 02 2019 3:28 pm

Atlantic County Democrats sued a housing development in Hamilton, claiming the operators of Woodlands Condominium Complex attempted to unlawfully stop canvassing on its grounds.

“The ability of voters to talk with office holders and candidates in-person about the issues they care about has been a bedrock of American law,” said Robert Herman, the attorney representing Atlantic County Democrats. “The ability to be heard is one of the pre-eminent and fundamental rights guaranteed by the United States and New Jersey Constitutions.”

The suit claims security personnel told Assemblyman John Armato and other canvassers they were not allowed to conduct political activity on Woodlands grounds and said they would be trespassing if they did not leave.

The suit said 924 registered voters live in the development, which is not a gated community. Most of those voters, 474, are registered as Democrats, and 366 are registered without a party affiliation.

A Hamilton ordinance expressly permits canvassing within 60 days of an election.

Democrats’ suit also claims Woodlands personnel have previously threatened to have canvassers arrested.

The lawsuit says Woodlands security personnel have claims the development’s bylaws forbid political activity on its ground, but the suit claims no such prohibition exists.

“This is not a Republican or Democratic issue,” said Herman. “Politicians should have the opportunity to speak directly with voters and vice-versa. People’s voices should be heard. We want more people engaged, not less.”

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