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Last week I was in warm, sunny Princeton, NJ to celebrate ”Hurricane Heroes” with the League of Women Voters of New Jersey.
Gathering state and local election officials along with nonprofit partners, the LWVNJ recognized the hard work, dedication and community spirit that prevailed after Hurricane Sandy ripped through the state last fall. Pulling together, this public-private partnership protected voters by using any and all means to provide access to the polls. State election supervisor, Bob Giles, instructed elections officials to inform the League of Women Voters of every decision regarding polling place locations and hours. League members came out in force, standing at traditional polling locations with signs directing voters to new, temporary locations. With no provisions for early voting, New Jersey officials liberally interpreted absentee voting laws to insure that no voter was denied access to the polls.
Around the country, Leagues are working hard to protect voters from laws that restrict access. We have an important lesson to learn from the New Jersey reaction to a natural, not a man-made, crisis. When we focus on the voter and every citizen’s right to vote, good things happen. That was the message of the LWVNJ convention last weekend. From “Hurricane Heroes”, to speakers from the media and the Brennan Center, the clear call was for more, not less, access to the polls and the League was the key to protecting the vote. I was proud to help celebrate yet another success story from the 2012 election with dedicated League leaders.