SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - JESPY House and SOMA Action co-sponsored two voter registration drives on Tuesday, October 3, to increase the number of JESPY clients who can vote in New Jersey’s upcoming elections.

JESPY House, which is based in South Orange, is a nonprofit organization which helps adults with learning and developmental disabilities to lead independent lives.

“JESPY House is excited to work with SOMA Action to help register our clients to vote," said Audrey Winkler, Executive Director of JESPY House. "With so many policy and benefits changes in New Jersey, our clients increasingly understand that they need to vote to effect change," added Winkler.

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Winkler also noted that registering to vote helped to empower JESPY clients to become strong advocates for the issues they support.

Alison Shames and Susan Hyon, both South Orange residents and SOMA Action members, worked with JESPY clients to help them complete voter registration forms, which will enable them to vote in November.

“This election—every election—is too important to sit out. We are pleased to educate JESPY clients about their rights and help them understand the importance of electing our public officials," said Shames, who is also the co-chair of SOMA Action's voting rights committee.

Hyon also trained JESPY client Michael J. and staff on the necessary forms and procedures so that JESPY House can register voters on its own. Michael, a strong proponent for the voter registration drives, commented: “If JESPY clients don’t vote, we don’t have a voice. All the attention for people with disabilities is when we’re children. As adults, we have real problems that we need our legislators to address. By voting, it shows that we have a voice and we are active in the community.”

To learn more about SOMA Action, a  non-partisan organization of nearly 1,000 members from South Orange, Maplewood, and surrounding communities, visit SomaAction.org.