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Eligible Voters Better Protected in New Jersey

October 13, 2006

For Immediate Release
Friday, October 13, 2006

Rene Steinhagen, New Jersey Appleseed
(973) 735–0523
Justin Levitt, Brennan Center for Justice
(212) 992–8158

Eligible Voters Better Protected in New Jersey
State Attorney General and U.S. Department of Justice
Agree on Process for Statewide Computerized Voter List

Newark, NJ Citizen groups today commended an agreement between the Department of Justice and the State of New Jersey regarding New Jerseys implementation of federal voter registration requirements. The agreement, approved yesterday by a federal court, seeks to ensure the smooth introduction of a new statewide list of eligible voters required by federal law.

This agreement on New Jerseys statewide list puts voters first, as they should be, said Rene Steinhagen, of New Jersey Appleseed. Ms. Steinhagen is the chair of the New Jersey Citizens Coalition on Implementation of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), a coalition of more than 30 good government and social justice organizations advocating for voters and seeking to ensure the integrity of elections in the state. The agreement helps ensure that voters are not put at risk by new computerized systems before it is certain that they are ready.

The Help America Vote Act, enacted in the wake of the 2000 elections, requires that each state develop one statewide computerized list of eligible voters. Yesterdays agreement sets forth a steady process for rolling out New Jerseys voter list that guards against potential mistakes. In particular, the agreement allows elections officials in New Jersey to use familiar county systems to generate poll books for the coming November election, while testing the statewide system as a backup.

Attorney General Stuart Rabner and his staff should be commended, explained Justin Levitt, a voting rights attorney at the Brennan Center for Justice and a New Jersey native with national expertise in the new voter lists. The reasonable and measured steps in this agreement will help New Jersey roll out this new registration tool with steps to protect eligible voters against technical uncertainty.

We applaud the administrations approach, added Sandy Matsen, Advocacy Coordinator and former President of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey. It seems evident that the staff is committed to protecting voters and promoting participation in our electoral process.