Ballots from four voting districts in Mercer County have gone missing after paper ballots were shuttled between polling locations and the county election board following a complete failure of voting machines in Tuesday’s election.
Robbinsville Mayor Dave Fried said that the Mercer County Board of Elections contacted the township at 5 PM today to report that ballots from one of Robbinsville’s nine voting districts “had gone missing.”
Records also show that three districts in Princeton – all cast at the municipal building – were also not recorded as received by the election board. The missing Robbinsville ballots were cast at the Mercer County Library.
“The fundamentals of democracy is that every vote would be counted,” Fried said. “Clearly, this has yet to happen in Robbinsville, as approximately 11% of our residents’ votes have yet to be safely delivered and tallied.”
A race for the Robbinsville school board, where 103 votes separate Peter Oehlberg and Christopher Emigholz, could be affected by the lost ballots. So could a Princeton school board contest where 67 votes separate Deborah Bronfeld and Rita Rafalvovsky.
A programming glitch optical scanners at polling locations across Mercer County as inoperable.
Instead, every voter is filling out a paper ballot and dropping them into the secure scanner machine storage bin. A team of a Democrat and a Republican from the Mercer County Board of Elections were collecting the cannisters that hold the votes on Election Day and scanned them at their office.
Fried pledged to push county officials to find the ballots.
“We’re working with the county, which is in charge of our elections, but please know we will not rest until we get to the bottom of this unconscionable mishap, and we will not consider the 2022 election over in Robbinsville until every single ballot is counted and done so securely,” stated Fried.
The ballots could be misplaced at the Board of Elections office; they were recorded as delivered. It’s not clear how the issue would be remedied if the ballots are never located.
Dominion, the manufacturer of the voting machine, was unable to repair the glitch on Election Day.
Election officials are taking steps to protect the chain of custody of ballots throughout the process.
Mercer County Superintendent of Elections Nathaniel Walker activated a contingency for all ballots cast at all locations to be scanned at the secure Board of Elections offices
“Ballots will be scanned just as they would at the polling location,” Walker said on Tuesday. “Every ballot that has been cast will be counted, no voter will be disenfranchised, and the integrity of the election is intact and secure.”
The three Princeton voting districts include 3,211 voters. The single Robbinsville polling place handles 835 registered voters.