Tag Archives: elections

5 Things You Can Do Today to Improve our Democracy

At the League of Women Voters, our work does not end after Election Day.

Here are five things you can do today to influence the future of our democracy. Let’s get to work!five-things

  1. Sign up to receive our emails: You will receive information about taking action locally and nationally, and nonpartisan educational materials designed to increase public participation and civic engagement.
  1. Join the League of Women Voters of New Jersey  because:
    1. You want to be politically informed. League members study, discuss, and debate policy issues and legislation that directly affects their communities.
    2. You want to help others become informed and active. League members provide New Jersey voters with the information they need to get to the polls and make informed decisions on election days.
    3. You think government needs a watchdog. Together we can improve transparency and prevent corruption.
    4. You want to shape policy. Our nonpartisan grassroots membership works to influence public policy at all levels of government.
    5. You want to lead. Through a variety of leadership workshops and other opportunities, the League gives you the tools to become an effective leader and community organizer.
  1. Influence Public Policy: The League will be here protecting voting rights and civil liberties, fighting for women’s rights, protecting our environment, demanding an open and accessible government, ensuring that all of our voices are heard and that your representatives represent YOU. Our six statewide policy committees work on public policy and are looking for new members. If interested in learning more about joining a committee listed below, email jburns@lwvnj.org.
  • Education
  • Natural Resources
  • Women and Family Issues
  • Government/Voting Rights
  • Immigration
  • Fiscal Policy
  1. Get Out the Vote: 2017 is an important election year in New Jersey and we need help improving New Jersey’s dismal voter turnout. We are looking for people interested in becoming League moderators, planning voter registration drives, creating nonpartisan material, and more. Email jburns@lwvnj.org if interested in doing nonpartisan voter engagement work!
  1. Give a Gift. The League of Women Voters relies on donations to carry out this work. Gifts to LWVNJ support our advocacy work and are non-tax deductible. Gifts to LWVNJ-EF support our voter service work and are tax deductible. You can donate online to LWVNJ or LWVNJ-EF or you can mail a check to 204 West State Street, Trenton, NJ 08608. Thank you!

 

Civics 101: Voting

The following blog post was written by Vishali Gandhi, LWVNJ summer intern.

The United States was founded upon principles of democratic government and freedoms, among them the right to vote for representatives in government. However, voting was not always universal. Voting rights were initially reserved for only white, property-owning males, but as the country grew and progressed, suffrage (the right to vote) expanded to include non-land owners, people of color, and women. While requirements to register differ according to state, in order to vote in New Jersey you must be a citizen of the U.S., 18 years of age by the time of the election, a resident of NJ for at least 30 days prior to the election, and you cannot be serving time in jail or on probation or parole for a felony.

In order to register to vote, you must complete a Voter Application form and either mail it or hand it in to either the Commissioner of Registration or Superintendent of EVotelections, depending on your county. You can check to see if you are registered and where you are registered through the Division of Elections website, or by calling your county’s Commissioner of Registration or Superintendent of Elections. You must register to vote at least 21 days before the date of the election in order to participate in that election.

General elections, including elections for the President, Governor, members of Congress, state legislators, and some county and municipal officials, are scheduled for the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November during a year in which an election is due. Primary elections, during which parties nominate a candidate to run during the general election, are held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in June. New Jersey has closed primary elections, meaning that only voters who have registered with a party may vote in that party’s primary election (party affiliation can be declared when initially registering to vote on the Voter Registration form or can be declared or changed by filling out a Party Affiliation Change form). Municipal elections are generally held with the General Elections. However, some municipalities hold nonpartisan elections (in which officials do not affiliate with a particular party) on the second Tuesday in May.

The process of voting is relatively simple: once you enter the voting booth, you will see a screen on which there are options for each position that must be filled (you will receive a sample ballot in the mail before the election so you can familiarize yourself with the layout of the ballot beforehand). Before submitting your ballot with your choices, you can change your decision as many times as you like. Once the ballot has been submitted, however, it is final and cannot be changed. If you have any questions or concerns, poll workers are available to aid in the process.

VP of Advocacy Nancy Hedinger answers voter questions through hotline

LWVNJ VP of Advocacy Nancy Hedinger answers voter questions

In addition, you can call the League of Women Voters of NJ at 1-800-792-VOTE (8683) or contact@lwvnj.org with any questions, concerns, or comments. Lines at polling places are known to get very long, especially during particularly important elections such as general elections for the Governor or President. By law, if you are in line at your polling place when the polls close, you have a right to vote. In New Jersey, polls are open from 6:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m.

If there is trouble with your registration, you may be asked to fill out a provisional ballot. A provisional ballot is a paper ballot that is administered in the following cases:

  • If your registration information is missing or is not complete in the poll book
  • If you moved from your registered address to another one in the same county and did not re-register at your new address
  • If you are a first-time voter and when you registered to vote you did not provide proper identification or the information you provided could not be verified and you did not bring your ID on Election Day (for your provisional ballot to be counted, you have until the close of business on the second day after the election to provide your county elections officials with the required ID information)
  • If you requested a vote-by-mail ballot but you never received it

Provisional ballots are counted only after they have been verified by the county’s Board of Elections.

Voting is a fundamental right and is vital for sustaining a democratic system, so it is very important to be aware of your rights when you go to vote. For first-time voters, familiarizing yourself with the ballot as well as knowing what to expect can be very helpful. The League of Women Voters of New Jersey has a wealth of information on voting rights, important dates and upcoming events, as well as a comprehensive “Frequently Asked Questions” page to help keep you informed.

Join the League as we honor Hurricane Heroes

The League of Women Voters of New Jersey will hold a cocktail reception and awards ceremony honoring Hurricane Heroes on May 3 at the Westin Princeton at Forrestal Village. These individuals and organizations worked tirelessly to ensure that New Jersey voters could participate in the 2012 General Election during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

“The destruction cause by Hurricane Sandy could have been devastating to our general election process,” said Toni Zimmer, President of the League. “There were 800 polling places initially without power, and thousands of voters were displaced. Our state is made up of 565 individual municipalities, with just as many local municipal clerks, yet somehow they all managed to work together with county and state officials to assist many of the 5,4 million registered voters of New Jersey whose opportunity to vote was jeopardized by the storm.”

Honorees include:

  • Robert Giles, NJ Division of Elections
  • Alexander Shalom, American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey
  • Mary Ciccone, Disability Rights New Jersey
  • Catherine Weiss, Lowenstein Center for the Public Interest
  • NJ County Election Officials and County and Municipal Clerks
  • Volunteers and members of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey

“These individuals and organizations took extraordinary measures to ensure New Jersey’s citizens could exercise their right to vote, in ways we thought would never be possible,” said Zimmer. “They deserve our gratitude and I hope the public will join the League in thanking them for their service and commitment to democracy.”

The reception will begin at 6:00 pm and is open to the public, with a $125 registration fee. You can find more information and register here or call the League of Women Voters of New Jersey at 609-394-3303.

Why I vote.

This is a guest post written by LWVNJ intern, Emily Garland.

When I was younger and had off from school on Election Day, my aunt would watch my sister and me. Part of that day off meant going to the polls. My sister and I would gather behind the curtain with my aunt and she would tell us which button to press. When it was time to cast her vote, there would be a slight skirmish between my sister and me over who got to press the red button. After all, an 8 year old’s memory of who pressed the red button last year is not very reliable.  I am very grateful that the right to vote and the act of voting was instilled in me at a very young age. I learned voting is more than just a right, it is also a duty.

 My senior year of high school was a highly formative time for my civic consciousness. I was fortunate enough to take 2 great classes with 2 great teachers. One was Government and Law Related Experiences (GALRE) and the other was A.P. Government. In GALRE, we would have various guest speakers come into our class and talk to us about their jobs and duties. These speakers were an assortment of people that played a role in politics, like councilmen, journalists, lawyers, state senators, and congressmen. Most of our grade was based on the quality of the questions we asked our guest speakers. This really encouraged me to learn about the political arena around me; it made it all the more tangible. I think this is a problem with voter turnout today, the disconnect between voter and those who serve the voter. Many people don’t see how their vote can make a difference, but it can. I vote because I believe it makes a difference.

In GALRE, we were required to work the polls on Election Day, which I still do to this day. Working the polls is another experience that has made the voting process more tangible and more consequential. It has also encouraged me to be informed about each and every election.

More importantly, working the polls has really illustrated to me who votes. These people who vote are the ones being heard and represented. I wish I would see more people like me, young and female, voting. Seeing a young person at the polls is so rare. I vote because I want more people like me to vote and be represented.

In AP Government, my teacher had a way of explaining things to our class in a way we had never thought of before. She told us that those we elect’s jobs are reliant upon those who vote. If you don’t vote, what should someone care about you since you have no say in whether or not they keep their job?

In a perfect democracy, everyone would come together and discuss their wants and needs, and no decision would be made final until everyone was satisfied. In a country that roughly 312 million call home, this isn’t very practical. So instead we have a republic where we choose people to represent our wants, needs, and priorities. I vote because as a young woman who is about to graduate college, I have specific needs and priorities that I want my government to hear and represent.  These include women’s rights, environmental protection and affordable higher education.  Since our country is so large and diverse, not everyone has these same priorities, but voting is the great equalizer that allows all these voices to come together and be heard. I vote because we live in a republic and I want my wants and needs represented.

I want a truly functioning and healthy republic. I believe the best way to accomplish this is to have complete voter participation. Although I am not everybody, I am still part of it. This is why I vote. To do your part, visit the League of Women Voters of New Jersey’s website for more information on voting and how you can register to vote.  Tuesday, October 16th is the last day to register to vote so don’t hesitate a moment longer to play your democratic part!

Why I Vote

The following is a guest post written by former LWVNJ intern, Jasmine Teague.

It was 2008 and I was so excited about the opportunity to vote for the first time in a presidential election. I was a little unsure about the procedures and what the experience would be like, as I walked onto the line to cast my vote. I knew for sure that this was an important part of history that I was partaking in and that I was proud to be a part of it. As I walked up to the line, I reflected on the fact that I am an African America female, both characteristics making it impossible to vote in previous years. I felt a sense of pride representing those who came before me to cast my ballot.

On this hot day, the line was very long and people were sweating but still determined to vote, anyway. As people stood waiting, they eventually began to talk casually. I made small talk with man standing next to me, who had American buttons and pins all over his shirt. He was so excited to tell me that he was a new citizen of the U.S.A. and this will be his first time voting. It was so nice to see such a melting pot of people. Suddenly in the back of me I heard an argument break out, discussing civil unions. The arguing eventually died down, but it added an element of excitement to the experience.

After walking out of the polls, I realized how strongly those people felt about their issue. More people should have a passionate stance on an issue. If you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything. I was proud to be among the many voting and taking a stand for what I believe in.

Voting for me is something that should be a top priority. Visit the League of Women Voters of New Jersey’s website for more information on voting and how you can register to vote.