Rutgers Students to Provide Legal Representation for Essex County Voters Challenged at the Polls on Election Day
October 15, 2008 –On Election Day, Tuesday, November 4, Essex County voters who believe that their right to vote has been unfairly denied can get legal assistance from students at Rutgers School of Law–Newark. “I fully expect that the record surge in new-voter registrations during this election cycle will exert pressure on the already under-staffed and over-burdened system and cause problems for many County residents at their polling place,” said Professor Frank Askin, director of the law school’s Constitutional Litigation Clinic, who has supervised the Voter Assistance Project for more than a quarter century.
In conjunction with his Election Law Seminar, Askin has recruited dozens of Rutgers law student volunteers who, under the supervision of faculty, will offer free legal representation to Essex County voters who are turned away at the polls.
Professor Askin advises that any Essex County resident who believes that he or she has been wrongly rejected at the polls should first report to the Commissioner of Registration at the Essex County Hall of Records at 470 Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, Newark. Rutgers law students who have volunteered for the Voter Assistance Project will be at the courthouse to represent voters seeking a court order permitting them to cast a ballot. All representation will be conducted pro bono and on a non-partisan basis.
According to Professor Askin, the most common reason that potential voters have to see a judge is that their voter registration forms got lost and, therefore, their name was not on the books at their intended polling place. “If a judge is satisfied that the applicant made a ‘good faith’ effort to register, then a judge may give that person an order to vote,” he explained. Essex County will have 16 judges assigned to Election Day duty this year.
Professor Askin also suggested that newly-registered persons take their sample ballots with them when they go to vote.
For more information about the Voter Assistance Project, contact Professor Frank Askin at 973-353-5687.