DOJ settles lawsuit with New Jersey over voter registration
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The Department of Justice announced Thursday it has settled a lawsuit it filed against the state of New Jersey over voter registration opportunities for customers of disability transportation services.
The lawsuit claimed disability transportation offices including NJ Transit Access Link and county-based Community Transportation programs have failed to provide voter registration opportunities to customers, in violation of the National Voter Registration Act.
According to a consent decree announced Thursday, the NVRA requires that agencies that provide disability services are required to distribute a voter registration application with each new application for services, renewal or change of address notification unless the applicant declines in writing.
They also are required to assist applicants in completing applications and transit them to the appropriate election officials.
Under the decree, New Jersey must provide all applicants for disability transportation services with voting registration applications whether they apply in person, by phone or online, and must develop tracking services and provide twice-yearly progress reports to the DOJ.
“It is critical that all citizens have unfettered access to voter registration opportunities,” Kristen Clarke, assistant attorney general for the DOJ’s civil rights division, said in a statement. “I am pleased that the state of New Jersey has worked with the Department of Justice to help ensure that citizens with disabilities will have broad access to the voter registration opportunities that federal law guarantees.”
Through a spokesperson, New Jersey Transit said it has “worked collaboratively with the Department of Justice to remedy outstanding issues relating to the National Voter Registration Act and create a plan moving forward that ensures compliance with the measure.”
The New Jersey Department of State, which oversees elections and voter registration, didn’t comment Thursday.