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For Immediate Release:  
For Further Information Contact:
May 18, 2005

Office of The Attorney General
- Peter C. Harvey, Attorney General

 

Tracy Munford
609-341-3235 or 609-571-5101

 

New Jersey’s National Guard Creates State’s First Voting Campaign to Encourage Military Personnel and Familites to Vote

New Jersey Attorney General is Joined by Veterans and Actor Joe Piscopo to Promote New Jersey’s “BE POWERFUL, BE HEARD” Voting Initiative

New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey, New Jersey Brigadier General and Deputy Adjutant General Maria Falca-Dodson, Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, Assemblywoman Linda R. Greenstein, Lawrence Township Mayor Pamela H. Mount and actor Joe Piscopo were joined by members of the New Jersey National guard, Jewish War Veterans, Disabled American War Veterans, American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign War for “Military Voter Awareness Day” and the taping of the first Public Service Announcement (PSA) by military personnel as part of New Jersey “BE POWERFUL, BE HEARD” Help America Vote Act initiative.

Prior to the taping the Attorney General led a brief program to thank the New Jersey National Guard and veterans for joining the “BE POWERFUL, BE HEARD” campaign to raise voter awareness and encourage military personnel and their families to vote.

Harvey said, “Participating in the electoral process in person or through absentee ballot, not just in New Jersey, but anywhere in the world, is an essential component of democracy, which is why partnering with the New Jersey National Guard is such an important initiative.” He continued, “Through the Help America Vote Act we created the “Be Powerful, Be Heard” Vote initiative and have over the past year significantly increased voter awareness, resulting in a record number of registered voters - more than 460,000 bringing New Jersey’s number of registered voters to more than five million for the first time in state history.”

According to Harvey, the purpose of the PSA is for the New Jersey National Guard to remind and encourage other military personnel around the world and their families to register and vote and to encourage people everywhere to vote. The PSA and the event will be archived and a copy will be forwarded to all military personnel in Iraq and throughout the world through the Defense Department via the Pentagon Channel and the Air Force News Service as well as local networks and on the web in New Jersey.

Brigadier General and Deputy Adjutant General Maria Falca-Dodson said, “The citizen-soldiers of our New Jersey Army and Air National Guard are patriotic, dedicated members of the United States Armed Services who even while deployed overseas, still take the time to vote, either on-line or by absentee ballot. Members of the New Jersey National guard exemplify courage, particularly on the front lines of war and commitment to the country and the citizens they protect.”

In New Jersey, there are more than 9,000 members of the Army and National Guard. Approximately 2,500 members of the Guard are currently deployed with the global war on terrorism. There have been as many as 3,300 members of the New Jersey National Guard deployed in the war. Members of the Guard are or have been deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Cuba, Germany and Italy. In addition to their work on the global war on terrorism, the New Jersey National Guard are also an integral part of Homeland Security, securing nuclear power plants in New Jersey following 9-11, bridges and tunnels in addition to responding to regional emergency disasters including floods and storms.

Today’s program also included Colonel Stephen Abel, Deputy Commissioner of Veteran Affairs for New Jersey, Captain David Beverage and members of the National Guard Troops; Commander Robert Richter and members of the Jewish War Veterans; Commander Mary Bencivenga and members of the Disabled American War Veterans; Jim Villard and members of the American Legion; Donny Wine and members of the Veterans of Foreign War, Middlesex County Superintendent of Elections Betty Munroe and County Clerk Elaine Flynn.

Also, joining in today’s program was actor, comedian and activist Joe Piscopo. Piscopo said, “Our National Guard and all armed service members are on the front line of defending our country and our State," said Piscopo. "If troops from New Jersey deployed across the globe take time to cast their vote, then people in New Jersey and across the nation should do the same."

Today’s program is part of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002, a federal law providing for federal monies to assist states in upgrading voting equipment, election procedures and education and outreach. Through HAVA, the Office of the Attorney General has sponsored a number of outreach initiatives designed to educate New Jerseyans about the importance of voting and voter registration.

PSA’s have also included actors and sports figures, all with a New Jersey connection actors Michael Douglas, Jason Alexander and Billy Baldwin; and entertainers Queen Latifah and from sports the New York Giants, Jeremiah Trotter of the Philadelphia Eagles and Kenny Anderson, formerly of the New Jersey Nets.

The Attorney General said while the primary component of public outreach on voting has centered on students and youth voting, other groups, such as military personnel are also being included. He said, “Today’s event is “Military Voter Awareness Day.” In addition to focusing on registering and exercising the right to vote, we are also recognizing New Jersey Guard troops who have returned from Iraq and other military personnel who contribute on a daily basis to keeping all New Jerseyans safe.”

Harvey continued, “We also want to recognize veterans of World War II, and the Korean and Vietnam Wars and their families as well, some of whom are joining us today.” The Attorney General also thanked the State Police Pipes for participating in today’s program.

The 2005 elections include Primary Elections on June 7, followed by the General Election, including the gubernatorial election on November 8. The registration deadline for the General/Gubernatorial Election is October 10. People can apply for absentee ballots by mail up to seven days in advance of Election Day and in person until 3 p.m. the Monday before election day. For more information about voting, visit www.NJElections.org.

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