Skip to comments.A Passaic County first: Inmates vote from jail
Posted on 11/07/2008 3:13:35 PM PST by Coleus
Being behind bars didnt bar some Passaic County Jail inmates from voting this week. In what some officials are saying is a first for the county, 22 men and women in the jails cell blocks used absentee ballots to vote.
"Weve been encouraging any inmates who are eligible under the law to vote," said Bill Maer, spokesman for the Passaic County Sheriffs Department, which runs the jail. "This is one of the first times we had a concentrated program to encourage inmates to participate in the election."
Nearly all of the eligible inmates who cast a ballot registered to vote while in the departments custody, Maer said. Passaic County Clerk Karen Brown said that while she had never seen ballots come from the jail in her nearly four years in office, there was nothing illegal about eligible inmates voting as long as they were not serving a sentence for a felony. Ex-felons who are not on parole or probation are also allowed to vote in New Jersey, she said.
"This is a direct result of people being more educated about the voting process," said Brown, who cited more available information on the Internet as contributing to public awareness. Civil rights groups have also been working to protect voting rights of the incarcerated throughout the nation.
Before the election, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey held voter registration drives in jails in Essex and Hudson counties, but not in Passaic. "We dont have the resources and people," said Deborah Jacobs, ACLU of New Jerseys executive director. The ACLU of New Jersey is a plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit filed against the jail in September that targeted the jails unsanitary and overcrowded conditions.
However, Maer said the ACLU supplied pamphlets and technical advice on the jailhouse voting drive. Jacobs could not confirm the organization had encouraged the departments efforts. Inmates were assisted by department staffers in casting absentee ballots.
Jason Hunter, a Passaic County Sheriffs Department clerk, delivered absentee ballot applications late last week, according to the county clerks office. A total of 36 applications were approved and Hunter delivered the ballots to the inmates. On Monday, hours before the 3 p.m. deadline, Hunter delivered 22 completed, sealed absentee ballots to the Passaic County Board of Elections.
Additional ballots may have come from the jail that were sent by mail, said Ken Hirmann, administrator for the Board of Elections. John Currie, chairman of the Board of Elections and the Passaic County Democratic Committee chairman, said on Thursday he didnt know how the small ballot drive in the jail originated.
Eugene Liss, one of the Republican commissioners on the board, dismissed the idea that the absentee ballots from the jail were an attempt to bolster the countys plurality of votes. "I cant believe that the Sheriffs Department would do something like that," Liss said. Maer said the departments aim was to keep people from being disenfranchised while they were in jail. "This was a project at the suggestion of the ACLU to see if this would help bolster inmates participation in the electoral process," Maer said.
I don’t guess they had “exit polls” for these voters.
Damn, that place brings back memories.
I know of a Ocean County woman who voted from prison by absentee ballot as well. She claims to have voted for McCain but she is known to be a habitual liar so I dont really know if that is true or not but I am sure that the majority of votes from prison would go democrat.
The democrats rely on the stupid vote. People who are dsyfunctional in how they deal with their lives and are in need of handouts. We have all seen stories of ACORN driving homeless people to the polls and paying them to vote.
They love to try and seduce the youth of America also because they know they are inexperienced still and not wise enough yet to see through their platitudes and the false idealism that peddle.
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