New Jersey ACLU Suing to Extend Voting Hours Over 'Technical Issues' and 'Delays'
22:40 GMT 02.11.2021 (Updated: 13:25 GMT 06.08.2022)
© AP Photo / Charlie NeibergallIn this Oct. 20, 2020, file photo, Kelly Wingfield, of Urbandale, Iowa, fills out his ballot during early voting for the general election in Adel, Iowa. As it has for more than 170 years, The Associated Press will count the vote and report the results of presidential, congressional and state elections quickly, accurately and without fear or favor on Nov. 3 and beyond.
© AP Photo / Charlie Neibergall
Following reports of technical issues blocking people from voting at some New Jersey polling locations on Tuesday, the state's branch of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said it had filed an emergency motion to get voting hours extended in the Garden State.
"No eligible voter should be disenfranchised due to a technical error. Racial justice - and the law - demand it," the constitutional rights group wrote on Twitter, noting their motion was filed in conjunction with the League of Women Voters.
We’re hearing reports of some polling locations turning away voters due to technical issues and delays.— ACLU of New Jersey (@ACLUNJ) November 2, 2021
Delays caused by technical issues aren’t an excuse to deny voters their right to vote.
We and the @LWVNJ are suing to extend voting hours statewide. pic.twitter.com/LMZLP3qHtg
According to the New York Times, electronic polling books, or e-poll books, have been struggling to remain connected to the internet all day. It is the first time the mid-Atlantic state has used the tablet-like devices in an election.
“I woke up to a phone call about it,” Jason Cilento, mayor of the small northern town of Dunellen, told the paper. He said the town's sole polling station had a line of 30 to 40 voters at times.
“They were annoyed, of course,” he said. “Then there were reboots.”
Alicia D’Alessandro, a spokesperson for the state government, said the problems were isolated and that most of the state's polling stations had been operating without incident.
"If any voters were unable to vote due to these issues, we encourage them to return to their polling location and cast a ballot," she said. Polls are scheduled to close at 8 pm, barring success in the ACLU's motion to extend.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, a Democrat, came into Election Day with a comfortable 11-point lead in the polls, suggesting it's likely he will be re-elected - a first for a Democratic governor in the largely Democratic state in more than 40 years. His rival, Republican candidate Jack Ciattarelli, owns a medical publishing company and is a former state lawmaker. He supported former US President Donald Trump's reelection campaign in 2020 and headlined a "Stop the Steal" rally in support of Trump's claims to have been cheated by Democrats in the election.
In that election, which took place before the widespread availability of COVID-19 vaccines and thus limited the safety of traditional voting methods, widespread computer problems plagued voters' efforts to cast ballots. The incidents helped fuel claims of malpractice against election workers and manufacturers of the voting machines. However, no evidence of widespread or systematic tampering with results has been found.