Rutgers Law School Students to Observe Polling Locations on Election Day

Law School students outside of the Camden County Correctional Facility

Law School students outside of the Camden County Correctional Facility

By Jeanne Leong

In the current political climate, many people have strong views about what’s happening in the nation.

One way citizens can voice their opinions and have a say in their own government is by voting.

To encourage New Jersey residents to vote in the upcoming midterm elections in November, Rutgers Law School students in Camden who participate in the school’s Voter Rights Project helped nearly 100 New Jersey citizens register to vote through  registration drives held at the Rutgers University‒Camden Campus Center and in the surrounding Camden community.

“While there are many aspects that go into civic duty, there is none more important than exercising our right to vote,” says Weston Dennen, a first-year student  from Cinnaminson. “The United States is a republic, a representative democracy that functions best when the elected leaders are representative of all citizens and their interests.  The only way to achieve this is through voting.”

At the Camden County Correctional Facility, students assisted people who have gone through the criminal justice system to register to vote.  Eligible voters include people charged with a crime, but not convicted; individuals convicted of a felony who have completed their prison sentence, probation and/or parole; and anyone serving a sentence for a misdemeanor.

“I strongly believe in the importance of people being aware of their right to vote,” says Mark Tambussi, a second-year student from Haddonfield.

“Never in modern history has it been more important to protect every American’s right to participate in the system,” says Jill Friedman, associate dean of pro bono and public interest at Rutgers Law School in Camden. “Our students’ efforts to register voters – particularly voters in jail, most of whom have never registered before and often aren’t aware that they can vote – are critical.”

At the correctional facility, 130 people attended the voter registration information session, with 29 people registering to vote.

“It was fulfilling to help facilitate such a basic right but similarly disheartening because of how many people were not eligible because they are serving felony sentences,” says Aryn Keyel, a first-year student  from Bloomfield, N.Y.

On Election Day (Tuesday, Nov. 6), through a partnership with the Camden County Board of Elections, more than a dozen Rutgers Law School  students participating in the Voter Rights Program will conduct poll observations at six Camden locations in order to keep track of voter demographics and report any issues, such as electioneering or lack of access for voters with disabilities or problems with board workers or challengers.  Another group of Rutgers Law students will be deputized to assist the Board of Elections to address issues that may arise at polling places throughout the city.


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