Monday, September 25, 2023
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Pollsters Must Give Voters Room, N.J. Court Rules

(CN) - Voters are entitled to a 100-foot zone free from exit pollsters, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled, upholding a state directive aimed at buffering voters from hawkers, hustlers, protesters and other "untoward interference."

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey challenged a directive from state Attorney Gen. Anne Milgram requiring exit pollsters to register two weeks before an election.

The ACLU also challenge Milgram's refusal to allow distributors of "voting-rights cards" within 100 feet of the polls.

The appellate division ruled in favor of Milgram, and the state high court upheld the decision in order to prevent voters from being forced to run "a gauntlet of hawkers, hustlers, and protesters or even pollsters shouting questions or voting-rights advocated handing out cards.

Justice Albin ruled that Milgram's action was in step with New Jersey election law and struck the proper balance between the right to free speech and the right to vote.

"Barring all activity - including expressive activity - within 100 feet of a polling place is the best means to protect voters from untoward interference. ... Exit pollsters and voting-rights advocates can operate at a distance of 101 feet from a polling site, conduct telephone surveys of people who live within a polling precinct, and hold up signs and pennants carrying their messages," Albin ruled.

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