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(Photo: Tiffany Tertipes).

Do Republicans have a VBM problem?

Defeated Old Bridge councilman says he lost because GOP voters don’t trust vote-by-mail

By David Wildstein, March 23 2022 1:14 pm

A former Republican councilman who lost a court-ordered special election yesterday in Old Bridge blamed his defeat on the lack of trust by GOP voters in vote-by-mail ballots.

“Republicans think it’s a scam.  It’s not,” said Mark Razzoli.  “ The scam is they have you thinking it’s a scam.”

Democrat Jill DeCaro defeated Razzoli by 145 votes, 477-198 (55%-45%), after winning 71% of the vote-by-mail ballots.

Razzoli won the Election Day machine vote by 134 votes, 495-361 (58%-42%) in an election where 55% of the ballots were cast in-person on Tuesday.

But DeCaro took the VBMs by 279 votes.  Nearly 44% of all votes cast in the special election came through mail-in ballots.

A 2020 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center said that 52% of Americans believe vote-by-mail ballots lead to voter fraud, despite no evidence of that.  In that poll, 73% of Republicans viewed VBMs as problematic, while 66% of Democrats did not.

“The Republican voter still will not send back their VBM,” said Mark Razzoli said.  “You have to embrace it and use it.  Democrats who never vote are voting.”

Razzoli said his campaign ran a “robust VBM program,” but that it didn’t work.

“(GOP State Chairman Bob) Hugin needs to take a proactive approach to getting voters to send back VBMs,” Razzoli said.

DeCaro had unseated Razzoli by 11 votes in the November 2021 general election, but Superior Court Judge Thomas Daniel McCloskey invalidated the election results after determining that a flawed database maintained by the state Division of Elections resulted in 27 voters receiving the wrong ballot.

In a South Toms River election held last week to break a tie in a November 2020 race for borough council that moved slowly through the state appellate court, 25% of all votes were cast through vote-by-mail ballots.

Republican Sandy Ross, who had held the seat before his re-election bid ended in a tie, won the mail-in ballots by six votes, 53-47.   The Election Day machine vote gave Ross a 108-vote lead, 203-95, over Democrat George Rutzler.

Democrat Katherine Bennin, who was a Maywood councilwoman until she tied Republican Danyel Cicarelli in November 2021, received 65% of VBM vote in a February do-over election, 215-114.

But Cicarelli won the Election Day machine vote by a 143-vote plurality, 474-331 (59%-41%).   Including nine provisional ballots that split 405 in Bennin’s favor, Cicarelli won the special election by 41 votes, 592-551 (52%-48%).

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