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Urban News Staff Reports

The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, the League of Women Voters of New Jersey, and the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey applaud Governor Murphy’s decision to significantly expand vote-by-mail in our state while maintaining in-person voting options. 
The groups praised the Executive Order signed Friday as a smart approach to elections that recognizes that people should not have to choose between their health and their ability to participate in a democracy.
In March, the groups joined with over 30 other national, state, and community organizations to send recommendations ahead of the decision to the Governor, Secretary of State, and legislative leadership meant to ensure a safe and robust election during the public health crisis. Several of those recommendations, including automatically sending postage paid vote-by-mail ballots to voters, maintaining in-person voting opportunities, providing secure ballot drop boxes, and relaxing the deadline for vote-by-mail ballots to be received, were adopted.
“The COVID-19 crisis has exposed deep cracks in our society’s foundation, which are causing earthquakes in Black and Brown communities,” said Ryan P. Haygood, President & CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. “We applaud Gov. Murphy for his leadership and for hearing our call to strengthen our foundation by choosing democracy. Expanding both vote-by-mail and maintaining in-person polling places allows us to address the unprecedented public health crisis we are facing, while also ensuring that no one is left behind in our elections, particularly not our Black and Brown communities. We look forward to continuing to work together to build the most inclusive democracy in America right here in New Jersey.”
“In these extraordinary times, maintaining and expanding access to the ballot are urgent, and we applaud Gov. Murphy for taking steps to safeguard the health of our democracy and the public health of our state,” said ACLU-NJ Executive Director Amol Sinha.  “As the pandemic exacerbates racial injustices across many fault lines, we must take measures to ensure the most fundamental rights are protected, particularly for communities of color who have been routinely disenfranchised since our founding. Both robust vote-by-mail and in-person voting are necessary so that residents don’t have to choose between their health and their right to vote. Coordinating an election during a public health crisis will be challenging — we stand ready to work together and make sure the right to vote withstands this test of its strength.” 
The organizations continue work to address remaining voting rights issues including concerns surrounding voter registration deadlines, vote-by-mail tracking and curing procedures, and voter education to combat misinformation. 
“We applaud the steps Governor Murphy has taken to protect both public health and democracy,” said Jesse Burns, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey. “Now, we must remove remaining barriers to the ballot and ensure that every vote counts.”
The League of Women Voters of New Jersey, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, and the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice are available to assist voters if they have questions or believe their voting rights have been violated. 

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