By Ferlanda Fox Nixon

Nearly 60 people participated in an hourlong virtual town hall hosted by the Morristown Alumnae Chapter on Monday, October 12, 2020. Organized primarily to encourage residents of Morris, Sussex, Warren, and Hunterdon counties in New Jersey to register and exercise their rights to vote, the event featured New Jersey Assemblywoman Shavonda E. Sumter as the keynote speaker.

Assemblywoman Sumter emphasized the importance of everyone being counted in Census 2020, especially African Americans. Additionally, with restrictions on New Jersey voters’ ability to cast their ballots in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sumter also walked town hall participants through the state’s mail-in voting process to avoid ballots being invalidated by any county’s Board of Elections.

Attendees were reminded of the legislation passed earlier this year that expanded New Jersey’s electorate. In March 2020, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill that allows people in New Jersey who are on probation and parole to vote in the Garden State. The law restored the voting rights of 83,000 disenfranchised residents. For many, November 3, 2020, will be their first time ever voting for a president of the United States.

New Jersey State Social Action Coordinator and Chapter Social Action Committee Co-Chair Alicia Benjamin-Stennett opened the virtual town hall with greetings. Chapter Social Action Committee Co-Chair Jeannie Holman introduced Sumter and moderated the event. Chapter President Marian Sykes Johnson delivered closing remarks.