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Case Name League of Women Voters New Jersey v. Way VR-NJ-0042
Docket / Court 3:20-cv-05990 ( D.N.J. )
State/Territory New Jersey
Case Type(s) Election/Voting Rights
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Case Summary
NOTE: This case is being tracked in close to real time by the Stanford/MIT Healthy Elections Project. So for more current information, see their tracker. COVID-19 Summary: This lawsuit was brought by two nonprofit ... read more >
NOTE: This case is being tracked in close to real time by the Stanford/MIT Healthy Elections Project. So for more current information, see their tracker. COVID-19 Summary: This lawsuit was brought by two nonprofit organizations and an individual voter against the Secretary of the State of New Jersey, to challenge New Jersey’s signature matching procedure. The plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief. On June 3, the plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction. On June 17, the parties reached an agreement for the July primaries and the court granted the preliminary injunction in a stipulation and order.


On May 18, the League of Women Voters of New Jersey, NAACP New Jersey State Conference, and a voter filed a suit against the Secretary of the State of New Jersey to challenge New Jersey’s signature matching procedure. Filed in the District Court for the District of New Jersey, the plaintiffs brought this lawsuit as a declaratory action under 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201-02 and injunctive action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, seeking relief enjoining the defendant from implementing signature verification procedures, and to establish a procedure for voters to cure deficiencies in their absentee ballots. The plaintiffs also sought attorney fees. The case was assigned to Judge Micheal A. Shipp, and the plaintiffs were represented by the Campaign Legal Center, the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and private attorneys.

On May 12, 2020, Governor Phil Murphy announced an executive order mandating all-mail elections for the May local election, July primary, and November general election. To authenticate the ballots, New Jersey law required election officials to match the signature on the voter’s mail-in ballot to the signature the voter provided in their absentee voting application. If the election officials determined a discrepancy, the ballot was rejected with no opportunity for the voter to verify their ballot. The plaintiffs alleged that New Jersey’s failure to provide mail-in voters with notice and opportunity to cure deficiencies violated the fundamental right to vote and due process against the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The plaintiffs also noted that counties with the most Black and non-English speakers had the highest rates of rejections due to signature matches. The plaintiffs further alleged that signature matching discriminated against voters with disabilities, elderly voters, very young voters, voters of color, and non-English speaking voters, in violation of equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment.

On June 3, the plaintiffs filed a motion for preliminary injunction and amended the complaint to add two additional plaintiffs.

On June 16, the parties jointly submitted an agreement for a consent order on the preliminary injunction pertaining to the July primaries. The next day, the court granted the preliminary injunction in a stipulation and order. Under the agreement, the defendant agreed to notify the voter within 24 hours after a decision has been made to tentatively reject a ballot due to signature, with a cure form to verify voter identity. The case is ongoing.

Averyn Lee - 07/23/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Due Process: Procedural Due Process
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Disability
disability, unspecified
Discrimination-basis
Age discrimination
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
Language discrimination
Race discrimination
General
Voting
Voting access
Medical/Mental Health
COVID-19 Mitigation Requested
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Race
Black
Race, unspecified
Voting
Election administration
Voter qualifications
Voter registration rules
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) Secretary of the State of New Jersey
Plaintiff Description the League of Women Voters of New Jersey, NAACP New Jersey State Conference, and a voter
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 05/18/2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  LWVNJ v. Way
Campaign Legal Center
Date: May 18, 2020
By: Campaign Legal Center
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
3:20-cv-05990-MAS-LHG (D.N.J.)
VR-NJ-0042-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/09/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
VR-NJ-0042-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/18/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion for Admission Pro Hac Vice [ECF# 12 to 24]
VR-NJ-0042-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/28/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint [ECF# 11]
VR-NJ-0042-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/03/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum of Law in Support of Plaintiffs' Motion for a Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 13]
VR-NJ-0042-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/03/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulation and Order Granting Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 33-1]
VR-NJ-0042-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/16/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulation and Order Granting Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 34] (D.N.J.)
VR-NJ-0042-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/17/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Goodman, Lois H. Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
VR-NJ-0042-9000
Shipp, Michael Andre (D.N.J.) show/hide docs
VR-NJ-0042-0006 | VR-NJ-0042-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Diaz, Jonathan (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-NJ-0042-0005
Doshi, Ravi (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-NJ-0042-0001 | VR-NJ-0042-0002 | VR-NJ-0042-0003 | VR-NJ-0042-0004
Erickson, Amy Elizabeth (Minnesota) show/hide docs
VR-NJ-0042-0005
Gaber, Mark P. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-NJ-0042-0005
Haygood, Ryan Paul (New Jersey) show/hide docs
VR-NJ-0042-0001 | VR-NJ-0042-0002 | VR-NJ-0042-0003 | VR-NJ-0042-0004 | VR-NJ-0042-9000
Jackson, Caleb (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-NJ-0042-0005
Kaufman, Alanna Gayle (New York) show/hide docs
VR-NJ-0042-0001 | VR-NJ-0042-0002 | VR-NJ-0042-0003 | VR-NJ-0042-0004 | VR-NJ-0042-9000
Klein, Julia Dayton (Minnesota) show/hide docs
VR-NJ-0042-0005
Lang, Danielle (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-NJ-0042-0001 | VR-NJ-0042-0002 | VR-NJ-0042-0003 | VR-NJ-0042-0004 | VR-NJ-0042-0005
Lebowitz, David A (New York) show/hide docs
VR-NJ-0042-0001 | VR-NJ-0042-0002 | VR-NJ-0042-0003 | VR-NJ-0042-0004
McChristian, Andrea (New Jersey) show/hide docs
VR-NJ-0042-0001 | VR-NJ-0042-0002 | VR-NJ-0042-0003 | VR-NJ-0042-0004
Paikowsky, Dana (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-NJ-0042-0001 | VR-NJ-0042-0002 | VR-NJ-0042-0003 | VR-NJ-0042-0004 | VR-NJ-0042-0005
Patel, Henal (New Jersey) show/hide docs
VR-NJ-0042-0001 | VR-NJ-0042-0002 | VR-NJ-0042-0003 | VR-NJ-0042-0004 | VR-NJ-0042-9000
Weiner, Robert N. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-NJ-0042-0001 | VR-NJ-0042-0002 | VR-NJ-0042-0003 | VR-NJ-0042-0004
Zalesin, Jeffrey (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
VR-NJ-0042-0005
Defendant's Lawyers Scott, Susan Marie (New Jersey) show/hide docs
VR-NJ-0042-0001 | VR-NJ-0042-9000

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