The Star-Ledger

Watchdog Groups Support Effort To Stop Christie From Holding October Election For U.S. Senate

The Star-Ledger — Tuesday, June 11, 2013

By Jenna Portnoy / The Star-Ledger

TRENTON — A coalition of government watchdog groups and left-leaning organizations today filed briefs in support of a lawsuit seeking to block Gov. Chris Christie from holding an Oct. 16 special election for the seat left vacant by the death of U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg.

NJ Citizen Action and NJ Communities United said Christie's decision to spend $12 million on a special election just three weeks before the November general election was a waste of taxpayer dollars and could disenfranchise voters.

Christie has said it's worth whatever it costs to install a new Senator quickly.

On Friday, the chairwoman of the Somerset County Democrats, Peg Schaffer, challenged Christie's authority to call for the election, calling it illegal and an attempt to suppress the vote. Schaffer said her law firm asked for and was granted permission by the state appellate division to file a motion for emergent relief.

"As New Jersey's largest citizen watchdog organization, we felt it was important to do what we can to ensure our members and the public have a voice and real opportunity to participate in a fair election for the open US Senate seat," Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, executive director of New Jersey Citizen Action, said in a statement. "The governor's decision to hold the special election less than three weeks before the regularly scheduled general election could cause voter confusion and disenfranchise newly registered voters as their registrations might not make it into the voting rolls by October 16."

Another motion was filed by the New Jersey Black Issues Convention, National Black Disability Council, South Jersey Black Political Caucus, Liberian Community Association of Burlington, Liberian Community Association of Newark, Minority Caucus of Monmouth County, Somerset County Democratic Hispanic Caucus, and Indo-American Cultural Association, citing similar concerns.

The Republican governor is expected to file a response this afternoon. His spokesman declined to comment on today's filings, referring instead to his statement Friday.

"The election dates set by the Governor comply fully with established New Jersey law and allow voters a choice and a voice in selecting candidates in a primary and ultimately a U.S. Senator in a general election. In view of that, we are confident that this challenge is without merit," spokesman Michael Drewniak said.

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