NJ must do more to reinforce protections for immigrant voters and voters of color

June is Immigrant Heritage Month, a month that honors America’s immigrant communities and their invaluable contributions. June is also when the 2024 primary election will take place in New Jersey. As New Jersey lawmakers celebrate Immigrant Heritage Month this month and highlight the vibrant diversity of the Garden State’s immigrant communities, they must also fight to uphold immigrants’ fundamental civil rights. Despite New Jersey being one of the top five states with the most eligible immigrant voters, immigrant voters still face extremely disproportionate barriers to voting and the ability to participate in our democracy.

Although for years the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 successfully protected voters of color and countered voter suppression, those federal protections have been systematically weakened over the years. Since then, we have seen the rise of laws making it harder to vote across the country. The reality is that even in New Jersey, immigrant, Black, and brown voters still routinely encounter suppression and intimidation at the polls. Obstacles like long lines, lack of in-language materials and guidance, inaccessible polling sites, being asked for voter ID when it isn’t required, and intimidating behavior at the polls have kept voters of color away from the ballot box. And when voters of color don’t vote, their voices and their communities remain unheard and unrepresented in government. With several crucial elections on the horizon, this weakened voter protection is unacceptable.

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