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Edelstein v. Ferrell

Decided: September 19, 1972.

JAN EDELSTEIN, ON HER OWN BEHALF AS A REGISTERED VOTER AND ON BEHALF OF ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, NAMELY REGISTERED VOTERS WHO WISH TO ENGAGE IN VOLUNTEER REGISTRATION EFFORTS IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE FORTHCOMING PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ROBERT N. FERRELL, SUPERINTENDENT OF ELECTIONS AND COMMISSIONER OF REGISTRATION FOR THE COUNTY OF MONMOUTH IN THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY; THE BOARD OF CHOSEN FREEHOLDERS OF THE COUNTY OF MONMOUTH, STATE OF NEW JERSEY; WILLIAM CAHILL, GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY AND PAUL J. SHERWIN, SECRETARY OF STATE OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, DEFENDANTS



Lane, J.s.c.

Lane

Upon the filing of the complaint on September 8, 1972, the court made a determination that the matter was emergent and ordered defendants to show cause on September 15, 1972 why an order should not be issued:

(a) Directing the defendant Robert N. Ferrell to conduct registration until October 10, 1972 and to adequately publicize the extended dates for registration;

(b) Directing the defendant to permit the plaintiff and other qualified volunteers to act as volunteer registrars, without pay, at high schools, colleges, business areas and other suitable places in the County of Monmouth;

(c) Such other relief as the Court may deem just and equitable.

The matter proceeded on September 15 based upon affidavits submitted on behalf of plaintiff and affidavits submitted on behalf of defendants. In effect, the matter was heard as a summary action. R. 4:67. No suggestion was made at the hearing that either party desired to offer oral testimony.

Plaintiff alleges that she is a registered voter residing in the City of Asbury Park, County of Monmouth, and that she is actively engaged in connection with a voter registration drive in Monmouth County. She purports to bring the action on her own behalf and "on behalf of others similarly situated, and on behalf of qualified unregistered voters."

Defendant Ferrell is the Superintendent of Elections and the Commissioner of Registration for Monmouth County having been appointed April 7, 1971. Defendant The Board of Chosen Freeholders is alleged to be obligated to provide the funds for the expense of elections. Defendant Cahill is the Governor of the State of New Jersey and is charged with being "generally responsible for executing the laws of the State of New Jersey." Defendant Sherwin is the Secretary of State and is charged with the obligation of "enforcing the election laws of the State of New Jersey."

On July 18, 1972 plaintiff wrote to Ferrell a short note stating in part:

In keeping with the President's call for a non-partisan voter registration drive why not name all high schools and colleges in Monmouth County as places of voter registration and send qualified registrars to them at designated times convenient to the students and schools during the month of September.

She alleges that her "request" was denied by Ferrell who stated that there would be three regional registration drives within the county during the month of September. These drives are to be conducted by the League of Women Voters at the Monmouth Shopping Center on September 9, 1972, the Manasquan Circle Plaza on September 16, 1972 and the Manalapan Mall on September 23, 1972.

Plaintiff alleges that the action of Ferrell "is arbitrary, capricious, and is an unconstitutional limitation upon plaintiff's attempt to increase participation in the electoral process, in violation of the First, Fourteenth, Fifteenth, and Twenty-Sixth Amendments to the United States Constitution, and will effectively deny the right of thousands of voters to participate in the coming election."

Plaintiff further claims that Ferrell has caused an advertisement to be placed in the newspapers stating that the deadline for registration is September 28, 1972, which action is alleged to be in violation of the Voting Rights Act Amendments of 1970 (42 U.S.C. , par. 1973aa-1(d)). That section provides:

For the purposes of this section, each State shall provide by law for the registration or other means of qualification of all duly qualified residents of such State who apply, not later than thirty days immediately prior to any presidential election, for registration or qualification to vote for the choice of electors for President and Vice President or for President and Vice President in such election; and each State shall provide by law for the casting of absentee ballots for the choice of electors for President and Vice President, or for President and Vice President, by all duly qualified residents of such State who may be absent from their election district or unit in such State on the day such election is held and who have applied therefor not later than seven days immediately prior to such election and have returned such ballots to the appropriate election official of such State not later than the time of closing of the polls in such State on the day of such election.

The complaint is supported by an affidavit of plaintiff which states in part:

It is an accepted fact that there are many first voters in the high schools and the colleges in Monmouth County who have not as yet registered and will not register unless the registration facility is brought to them at their schools. The same is true of the black and Spanish speaking communities who are reluctant to go cross town to City Hall to register. If the registration facility were ...


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