New Jersey Announces Accessible Voting is Coming to May Elections
For the first time ever New Jersey is offering a secure mobile voting option for voters with disabilities in direct response to COVID-19 voting concerns
Tusk Philanthropies (TP) announced today New Jersey is implementing a mobile voting option for voters with disabilities in their May elections. New Jersey becomes the first state to offer a mobile voting option in direct response to in-person voting concerns amid COVID-19.
Earlier this month, New Jersey expanded vote-by-mail with paper ballots to all New Jersey residents but announced today it was including a secure, accessible ballot portal to ensure voters facing additional barriers still had the option to vote privately and independently. Postal paper ballots still require voters to read standard text, physically write and/or fill in the ballot choices, seal and certify the ballot via a signature on the envelope, and mail the ballot. Democracy Live’s OmniBallot portal provides a secure option for eligible voters to receive, mark and return their ballots without assistance either electronically or by mail. Through the Democracy Live system, a paper ballot is always tabulated.
The election in May will be for a select number of townships, counties, and municipalities throughout the state that were scheduled to conduct elections earlier this year and postponed due to coronavirus. Eligible voters will be able to participate in the upcoming election by opting in to access their ballot electronically on their smartphones or other electronic devices. All voters that qualify to use the system will have the option to print and mail their ballot or the elections office can print the ballot after it has been submitted via the portal. 100% of all ballots are verified by the voter and tabulated via a paper ballot.
“By offering online voting in their upcoming elections, New Jersey just took a monumental step in the right direction for every voter in our country,” said Bradley Tusk, CEO and Founder of Tusk Philanthropies. “New Jersey understands that online voting is the only way to enable disabled Americans to vote privately and independently in this year’s elections. The technology exists, it’s been successfully tested and it’s time for every state to step up and implement online voting so every American has the opportunity to cast their vote in this year’s elections.”
To access their ballot, participating voters will log into the secure Democracy Live portal on their computers or smart devices using their login credentials. Once the voter has made all their selections, they will have the opportunity to review their ballot to ensure it was marked correctly. Similar to how traditional absentee voting is done in New Jersey, all voters review their ballot and sign their name before returning their ballot. The signature and ballot may be submitted via mail, or printed by the elections office through the portal. Ballots will be verified and tabulated by the local elections office.
“An alternative to voting in person is necessary during this COVID-19 crisis,” said Dan Spoone, President American Council of the Blind. “People who are blind should not have to unnecessarily and unfairly expose themselves to the virus by physically visiting public polling places. Just as all other New Jersey residents have the right to vote via absentee ballot, we commend Governor Murphy for providing an accessible remote voting method available to people with disabilities.”
“Nearly 15% of voters cannot see, hold, or mark a paper postal ballot due to disabilities,” said Democracy Live CEO, Bryan Finney. “Thanks to New Jersey’s leadership no voter will be left behind in the upcoming election. All voters, regardless of disabilities will be able to vote safely, securely and independently from home.
Ballots went out on April 18 and absentee voting will continue through 8:00 PM ET on Election Day, May 12. The following local elections were originally scheduled to occur on May 12: Ventnor, Ridgefield Park, Ridgewood, Teaneck, Bass River, Medford Lakes, Ocean City, Belleville, City of Orange, Irvington, Montclair, Nutley, Allenhurst, Deal, Keansburg, Loch Arbor, Paterson. The following local elections were postponed to May 12 by executive order due to the coronavirus:
- March 21 - Old Bridge Fire District Election
- March 31 - West Amwell Special Election, Atlantic City Special Election
- April 21 – School boards for Cliffside, Fairview, Garfield, Hackensack, Oakland, Ridgewood, Irvington, Newark, North Bergen, Weehawken