Justice Division Reaches Settlement with the State of New Jersey underneath the Nationwide Voter Registration Act | OPA
The Justice Department announced today that it has signed a proposed consent decree to settle a proxy lawsuit with New Jersey state and state officials.
The Department of Justice’s lawsuit, filed under Section 7 of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), denies the failure of handicapped transportation programs in the state of New Jersey – including NJ Transit Access Link and district-based community transportation programs – to provide voter registration opportunities for their customers.
The proposed consent decree was filed in connection with a lawsuit by the Justice Department in the Federal Supreme Court. The department’s complaint alleges that the state of New Jersey has not designated any offices in the state that provide paratransit and other government-funded handicapped transportation services as voter registries. According to the NVRA, these offices must distribute an application for voter registration to anyone applying for their services, along with any recertification, renewal or change of address form relating to those services, unless the person concerned declines in writing to register to vote . They must also assist applicants in completing voter registration applications and they must accept completed voter registration applications for forwarding to the responsible state election officers. However, the NJ Transit Access Link and Community Transportation programs do not provide the NVRA-guaranteed voter registration options.
“Part of our ongoing efforts to ensure ballot access is to ensure that social services and disability agencies offer registration facilities under federal law,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The National Voter Registration Act is an important tool to ensure that citizens with disabilities have convenient and accessible ways to register to vote. It is vital that all citizens have unrestricted access to voter registration. I am pleased that the state of New Jersey has worked with the Department of Justice to ensure that citizens with disabilities have broad access to federal law-guaranteed voter registration options. “
“The right to vote is a constitutional principle that is a cornerstone of our democracy,” said incumbent US attorney Rachael A. Honig for the New Jersey district. “The National Voter Registration Act improves citizens’ access to this democratic process by increasing the opportunities for voter registration. We appreciate that the State of New Jersey worked with us to ensure that all New Jersey residents, including those with disabilities, have convenient ways to register to vote. “
The department announced on March 11, 2021, the state of New Jersey of its intention to file a lawsuit under the National Voter Registration Act, and the parties worked together to achieve that agreement. Pursuant to the parties’ approval decree – and subject to approval from the New Jersey Federal District Court – New Jersey will designate NJ Transit Access Link and Community Transportation as voter registrars. New Jersey will also conduct robust implementation and oversight efforts and provide additional voter registration options for existing Access Link customers.
For more information on the National Voter Registration Act and other state voting laws, visit the Department of Justice’s website at https: www.justice.gov/crt/voting-section. For more information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces, visit http://www.justice.gov/crt.