Democrats worried by voters left off rolls
Published in the Home News Tribune 10/30/04
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
TRENTON -- The names of thousands of new voters have not been entered into the books used on Election Day, according to the state Democratic Party, which yesterday urged the Attorney General's Office to make sure the rights of record numbers of first-time voters are protected.
Kevin Hagan said the Democratic State Committee has been fielding calls from new voters who became concerned about their status after not receiving sample ballots in the mail.
State Republican Party spokesman Brian Callanan dismissed the Democrats' charges as pre-election posturing from a desperate party.
"It's a page from the Kerry campaign playbook, literally. The DNC's Election Day guide calls for operatives to cry foul even when no problems exist," Callanan said.
Hagan cited four counties -- Essex, Passaic, Mercer and Camden -- where he said thousands of newly registered voters were not placed onto roll books being delivered to polling places. When those people go to their district polling station to check in, their names will not appear and they'll have to vote by paper ballot.
"Because of the great number of new voters this year, we want to make sure polling places have enough provisional ballots, and we want to make sure voters know they have the right to vote provisionally," Hagan said.
Provisional ballots are cast on paper by people whose names do not appear on voter rolls. Those ballots are verified later, to make sure the voter was properly registered, before they are counted.
Lee Moore, a spokesman for the Attorney General's Office, said his office was already on top of the problem when notified by the Democrats yesterday. The office, which oversees elections for the state, sent a letter earlier yesterday to election officials in all 21 counties advising them how to handle the flood of new registrants whose named didn't make it into the roll books.
Attorney General Peter C. Harvey advised the counties to prepare supplemental roll books when possible, or to at least create district-by-district lists of affected voters.
"As you already know, no voter can be refused the right to cast a provisional ballot if they claim to have registered to vote," the attorney general said in his letter to the counties.
More than 5 million residents are now registered to vote in New Jersey, including 380,000 new voters. Of the total, there are 1,163,224 Democrats, 884,801 Republicans and 2,938,562 unaffiliated voters. The rest are registered with minor parties.