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Federal Judge Blocks Attempt to Undermine New Jersey’s Plan for a Safe Election

TRENTON, NJ—Tuesday, a federal judge ruled in Trump v. Murphy that election provisions allowing election officials to begin canvassing vote-by-mail ballots 10 days before Election Day and allowing ballots without a postmark to be counted if received within 48-hours of the election do not violate federal law. The League of Women Voters and the NAACP New Jersey State Conference were granted leave to intervene in the case on behalf of voters last month. The groups are represented by Campaign Legal Center, New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, and DLA Piper.

“Today’s ruling allows us to continue the fight on behalf of voters in a state devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The League supports the state’s commonsense plan to ensure every registered voter has the unimpeded opportunity to cast a ballot safely this fall,” said Jesse Burns, executive director of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey. “We are committed to ensuring everyone can vote and every eligible vote counts, and we will fight attempts to cause voter confusion and mistrust.” 

In August, New Jersey Governor issued an executive order outlining an election plan that included provisions to send every active New Jersey voter a vote-by-mail ballot and to install ballot drop boxes in every county, in addition to the ballot receipt provisions upheld by today’s decision. The part of the Trump campaign’s lawsuit that challenges New Jersey’s decision to mail ballots to voters remains pending, but the plaintiffs chose not to expedite that issue. Mail-in ballots were sent to voters around the state starting in mid-September.  

“Mail-in ballots are a safe and secure method for voters to exercise their constitutional rights to vote in any year, but especially in 2020 as a global pandemic continues to rage through the United States,” said Dr. Deborah Ann Turner, president of the board of directors for the League of Women Voters of the United States. “The League celebrates this decision affirming New Jersey’s safe election plan because it places the priority where it belongs: on the voters.” 

"The New Jersey NAACP is pleased by the court's ruling. It is of the utmost importance to maintain a safe and robust format for the November election in order to avoid confusion among voters and have the highest turnout possible. We are proud to be part of this litigation," said Richard Smith, president of the NAACP New Jersey State Conference. 

Read more about this case from Campaign Legal Center. 

“Today’s decision is an important step towards protecting New Jersey voters from an attack on their ability to vote safely in the election,” said Danielle Lang, co-director of voting rights at Campaign Legal Center (CLC). “Our most important right as Americans is the right to vote, and states like New Jersey are completely within their right to ensure that every eligible citizen has a convenient way to vote in the election and have their vote counted.” 

“We are living in extraordinary times where challenges beyond our control, such as the current pandemic, can cause barriers to voting,” said Henal Patel, Director of the Democracy & Justice Program at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. “We should be doing everything we can that is in our control to address those barriers with democracy-affirming policies that make voting as easy and accessible as possible, especially for Black and other communities of color who already face increased difficulties when it comes to participating in elections. New Jersey has done its best to do that—and today’s court decision blocks a cynical attempt to undermine those efforts while preventing changes to our elections that would cause enormous voter confusion.” 

Voters can find their nearest ballot drop box location here. All locations are open 24 hours a day and until 8pm on election day unless noted. 

Read the ruling here. 

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PRESS CONTACT: Kayla Vix | 202-809-9668 | [email protected]