Sunday, November 28, 2021

New Jersey to improve voter registration help for disabled people

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By Doina Chiacu and Jan Wolfe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -New Jersey has agreed to take steps to better provide voter registration opportunities to people with disabilities under an agreement announced by the U.S. Justice Department on Thursday.

The department said it has settled a lawsuit brought against the state over voter registration for the disabled. The complaint had said government-run disability transport services in New Jersey, known as Access Link and Community Transportation, failed to provide customers with opportunities to register to vote as required by federal law.

As part of the settlement, known as a consent decree, New Jersey officials will conduct “robust implementation and oversight efforts and will afford supplemental voter registration opportunities” to users of the transportation services, the Justice Department said.

The department said it gave New Jersey notice on March 11 of its intent to bring the lawsuit under a federal law called the National Voter Registration Act, and “the parties worked collaboratively to achieve” the settlement, which must still be approved by a federal judge.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court on Thursday simultaneously with the settlement.

“It is critical that all citizens have unfettered access to voter registration opportunities,” Kristen Clarke, head of the Justice Department’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.”

New Jersey officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Jan Wolfe; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Will Dunham)

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