CWA Local 1081
60 Park Place, Suite 501
Newark, NJ, 07102
Office (973) 623-1081
Fax: (732) 988-1081

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New Jersey Citizen Action Oil Group

March 28, 2016


Maite Gaeta, OPRA Custodian

County of Essex

465 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.

Newark, NJ, 07102


Re: OPRA Request Redux: Essex County Division of Welfare’s Clients’ Voter Registration   



Dear Ms. Gaeta:0020


CWA Local 1081 is in receipt of your attached emailed rejoinder of March 22, 2016 to our Union’s attached Open Public Records Request of March 17, 2016, the latter entitled “Essex County Division of Welfare’s Clients’ Voter Registration Statistics”.


Unfortunately, the answer apparently provided you by Essex County Division of Welfare Director Jeanette Page-Hawkins that “The Essex County Division of Welfare does not have documents for the entire agency as SNAP, TANF and GA voter registration is automated for those programs. The State DHS (Department of Human Services) collects information for their needs through the system and perhaps you can find the documents or information you seek there.”


Respectfully, Ms. Page-Hawkins’ purportedly provided proffer regarding the information our Union responsibly requests strains all cogent credibility. Is Ms. Page-Hawkins maintaining that the management of the Essex County Division of Welfare cares so little about the voter registration statistics for its clients that the County Welfare Agency (CWA) she currently oversees doesn’t even request such important information from the state agency (the DHS) under whom she worked as the Director of the Division of Family Development (DFD) for approximately twelve years before she became Director of the Essex County Division of Welfare on April 6, 2015?


This possibility becomes even more perturbing when one recognizes that the DFD oversees a number of programs to support New Jersey residents including Work First New Jersey/Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (WFNJ/TANF) and WFNJ/General Assistance (WFNJ/GA), - which are the state's welfare programs, NJ Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (NJ SNAP, formerly Food Stamps), and Child Care and Child Support services. Work First New Jersey and SNAP are administered by the County Welfare Agencies  in each of the twenty-one (21) counties, and by certain municipal welfare departments (but Essex’s CWA is controlled by the county’s administration and its managerial minions). 


The 1993 National Voter Registration Act — better known as the Motor Voter bill –requires that citizens be offered the opportunity to register to vote when they get a driver’s license or apply for social services. Voting rights groups filed a lawsuit alleging that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts was not in compliance, after a thirty-five-year-old woman was not offered the chance to register to vote when she filed paperwork with the state’s welfare office in June of 2012.. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, recognizing its obligation under federal law, settled the case out of court. As part of that settlement, that state government agreed to contact, by mail, the 477,944 welfare recipients who might also have been denied their right to be offered a chance to register to vote and offered them the opportunity to immediately do so.


For years, researchers have warned that laws requiring voters to show certain forms of photo identification at the poll would discriminate against racial minorities and other groups. In a new paper entitled “Voter Identification Laws and the Suppression of Minority Votes”, researchers at the University of California, San Diego—Zoltan Hajnal, Nazita Lajevardi—and Bucknell University—Lindsay Nielson—used data from the annual Cooperative Congressional Election Study to compare states with strict voter ID laws to those that allow voters without photo ID to cast a ballot. They found a clear and significant dampening effect on minority turnout in strict voter ID states. The impact of strict voter ID was also evident in general elections, where minority turnout plummeted in relation to the white vote. “For Latinos in the general election, the predicted gap more than doubles from 4.9 points in states without strict ID laws to 13.5 points in states with strict photo ID laws,” the study found. That gap increased by 2.2 points for African Americans and by 5 points for Asian Americans. The effect was even more pronounced in primary elections.


Is the management of the Essex County Division of Welfare willing to unwittingly assist the dastardly deeds of those whom would purposely suppress the voting rights of the poor, and especially minorities, residing within the County of Essex?


Our Union requests you contact Ms. Page-Hawkins, anew, to ensure she immediately obtains the automated voter registration information collected by the DHS regarding the clients of the Essex County Division of Welfare and without delay provide such salient statistics in order to both satiate our request and to facilitate the sanctity of the process of registering all residents to vote.


CWA Local 1081 thanks you, in advance, for your anticipated expeditious cooperation responding to this most sincere supplication.


Yours truly,



David H. Weiner, President, CWA Local 1081