On Election Day 2019, a Facebook user shared a photograph alongside a post (archived here) claiming the woman in the photo was an election worker who attempted to prevent someone from voting without identification.
In a post, Kristen Vaught Cavuto implored fellow social media users to share the photograph and post. She claimed that the election worker was named Jo Ann Ardito:
I just witnessed attempted voter suppression at my polling place in Edison, NJ. My husband and I were in line to vote behind an Asian woman. The poll worker, whose name is Jo Ann Ardito, who is a representative of the Republican Party, told the woman ahead of me that she was not permitted to vote without a picture ID, despite the woman being registered to vote and her signature matching the registration book. When I challenged Ms. Ardito and told her that what she was doing was against the law, and that I also did not have ID with me, she stated that I could vote, but the other woman could not, “because I don’t know her”. I replied that she also does not know me, but she was going to let me vote. After me strongly voicing my objection to her bias and saying loudly that she was committing voter suppression, she allowed the woman in front of me to vote. The polling place was quite empty, and there were several other poll workers listening, but only one was willing to tell Ms. Ardito that the law did not require ID, and none, including the Democrats, were willing to stand up for this citizen’s right to vote.
The situation has been reported to the Department of Justice and the ACLU. This post is public, because this woman broke the law today, and tried her hardest to keep a citizen from voting. I am just grateful that I happened to be there at the right time and that I had the courage to speak out. I am very concerned about how many of my neighbors this poll worker kept from voting today because she didn’t like the way they looked. Please share widely.
In the photograph, what looked like a temporary badge of sorts was pinned to the election worker’s sweater. It read “JO ANN ARDITO,” and additional text read “[for] the Republican party.”
Cavuto said she “witnessed attempted voter suppression” at her Edison, New Jersey polling place, adding that the woman identified as Ardito tried to claim that the registered voter in line before her could not vote without photographic identification. However, Cavuto said the woman ahead of her in line was listed as a registered voter in the book, adding that the election worker asserted she “[didn’t] know” the woman ahead of her in line.
Finally, Cavuto said the woman ahead of her was permitted to vote — after Cavuto herself repeatedly asserted the election worker was attempting to engage in voter suppression. In a comment on the post, she added:
I appreciate the nice comments, but please don’t make this about me. I was in the right place at the right time, that’s all. This is about the fact that non white citizens are being denied the vote in my town. Edison is a majority non white town, but nearly all of the poll workers were white. That needs to be the focus here.
The New Jersey Department of State Division of Elections maintained a page (“Vote at Your Designated Polling Location”) which had this to say about identification and voting:
If you did not provide identification to the county commissioner of registration or if the identification information could not be verified (i.e., your driver’s license number or the last four digits of your social security number), YOU MAY BE ASKED TO SHOW IDENTIFICATION AT THE POLLING PLACE WHEN YOU GO TO VOTE.
Identification may include, but not limited to, any Current and Valid Photo ID:
NJ driver’s license, Military or other Government ID, Student or Job ID, Store Membership Card, United States Passport,
Bank statement, Car registration, Government check or document, Non-photo NJ driver’s license, Rent receipt, Sample Ballot, Utility bill, or any other official document
If you show identification, you will vote in the voting machine.
New Jersey’s Division of Elections indicated that registered voters might be asked to provide identification if voters “did not provide identification to the county commissioner of registration” or if their “identification information could not be verified.” The New Jersey Institute of Social Justice noted that “New Jersey law does not require voters to present a photo ID before being able to vote,” adding:
However, if you did not provide identification when you registered to vote (e.g., your driver’s license number, non-driver identification number, or the last four digits of your social security number) or the county commissioner was unable to verify your identification information, you must show some form of identification at the polling place when you go to vote.
If you don’t have any of these forms of ID, you may still cast a provisional ballot. However, you must submit a copy of your ID to your county election office before the close of business on the second day after the election for your ballot to be counted.
The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey (ACLU-NJ) maintained a “Know Your Voting Rights” page, structured as a sort of fact sheet.
Two portions mentioned voter identification:
Do I have to show ID on Election Day?
If you are a first time voter, yes. You will need to provide ID if you registered by mail and did not provide proper identification or the information you provided could not be verified.
You have the right to vote by provisional ballot [if:]
• You believe you are entitled to vote but your name is not on the poll list of voters.
• You have moved recently within your county and have not registered at your new address.
• You are a first-time voter and you did not provide the accepted form of ID when you registered to vote and did not bring it on Election Day.
• You must bring acceptable ID to the appropriate county office within 48 hours of voting for your provisional ballot to be counted. Poll workers must give you a form that tells you where the office to bring your ID is located …
The claim in Cavuto’s post about poll worker Jo Ann Ardito and attempted voter suppression in Edison, New Jersey rested on her purported observation of the events as they unfolded, and were difficult to verify independently. New Jersey voters are typically not required to show identification, but some first-time voters are asked to show it in cases where their registration has not yet been verified. Voters in that situation are entitled to a provisional ballot, a detail not mentioned in the post.
We contacted the Middlesex County Board of Elections, but have not yet received a response.