In New Jersey, ACLU Sues to Keep Polls Open for 90 Extra Minutes

The court application asks that polls stay open until 9:30 p.m. to offset delays linked to problems connecting new electronic poll books to the internet.,

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Voting-rights groups sue to keep polls open in New Jersey for 90 extra minutes.

Tracey Tully

Nov. 2, 2021, 7:12 p.m. ET

Nov. 2, 2021, 7:12 p.m. ET

The early morning technology glitches were reported at isolated polling spots.
The early morning technology glitches were reported at isolated polling spots.Credit…Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

Voters in New Jersey may get an extra 90 minutes to cast ballots Tuesday night.

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey and the League of Women Voters filed an application with State Superior Court on Tuesday evening, asking that polling locations be kept open until 9:30 p.m. The extension, they said, would offset morning delays linked to problems connecting new electronic polling books to the internet.

“The late opening of numerous polling locations spread across the state and ongoing operational issues throughout the day has resulted in dozens of voters being turned away, asked to return later, or leaving because of the long waits,” the court filing stated.

This year, for the first time, voters in New Jersey were able to cast ballots early on machines over nine days.

The new system utilized tablet-like devices known as e-poll books, which require internet connectivity.

Early morning technology glitches were reported at isolated polling spots in Piscataway, Long Branch and Dunellen, among other towns. The delays were linked mainly to an unfamiliarity with the new technology by poll workers, not hardware problems, election officials said.

But it did lead to frustration, and lines.

The emergency request is expected to lead to a possible court hearing with representatives of the two leading candidates for governor, Philip D. Murphy, a Democrat, and Jack Ciattarelli, a Republican. It was unclear when a decision might be made by a Superior Court judge in Mercer County, where the application was filed.

Most of the state’s roughly 3,400 polling sites operated smoothly, according to Alicia D’Alessandro, a spokeswoman for New Jersey’s secretary of state, the top election official.

“If any voters were unable to vote due to these issues, we encourage them to return to their polling location and cast a ballot,” Ms. D’Alessandro said late Tuesday morning.

Jeanne LoCicero, legal director for the A.C.L.U. of New Jersey, said the goal was to make sure that anyone who wanted to vote was able to do so.

“We know there were systemic problems and we want to make sure that everyone has a chance to cast their ballot,” Ms. LoCicero said.

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