Home>Campaigns>Mercer election board hope to count votes by November 21

Completed ballots strewn across the floor at a polling facility in Mercer County on November 8, 2022. (Photo: Obtained by the New Jersey Globe).

Mercer election board hope to count votes by November 21

Election machine malfunction puts Board of Elections up against the clock for Trenton’s December 6 runoff

By David Wildstein, November 15 2022 10:50 pm

The Mercer County Board of Elections is still counting votes one week after a hugely problematic November 8 general election where all of the voting machines had malfunctioned, and the official responsible for the tally stopped short of committing to finish before the November 21 certification deadline.

The delay potentially jeopardizes the county’s ability to be ready for the December 6 runoff election in Trenton.

Mercer County Superintendent of Elections Nathaniel Walker said this evening that all in-person ballots from Election Day have been counted and that his office is now turning to provisional and emergency ballots.

“We remain committed to ensuring the integrity of our elections,” Walker said.  “I wish to thank the hardworking employees of the Board of Elections for their time and attention devoted to the task of retrieving voting machines in a small timeframe and making sure every ballot was properly counted.”

According to Walker, 5,237 provisional ballots cast countywide are in the process of being reviewed, including 725 in Trenton.    He said an additional 700 emergency ballots will be reviewed by close of business  tomorrow, although Walker stopped short of saying hen they will be counted.

“Our goal is for the bipartisan Board of Elections Commissioners to adjudicate and count the remaining provisional ballots prior to the November 21 candidate’s certification deadline,” Walker said.

In Trenton, there are 320 uncounted provisional ballots in the West Ward, 207 in the North Ward, 100 in the South Ward, and 98 in the East Ward.

The most recent election results has Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora ahead with an enormous 70% of the vote, far above the 50% need to win the contest outright, but the delayed count leaves several city council races in question.

In New Jersey’ 3rd congressional district, where Rep. Andy Kim (D-Moorestown) leads Republican Bob Healey by 24,322 votes, 55%-44%, there are 2,515 uncounted provisional ballots.

Walker said that 199 scanning tabulating machines in 243 election districts have been “retrieved and store.”

A programming glitch optical scanners at polling locations across Mercer County as unworkable.

Instead, every voter was instructed to fill 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 collected the cannisters that hold the votes and scanned them in their office.

Dominion, the company that manufactured the voting machines, denied responsibility for the malfunctioning of their equipment.

The issue in Mercer County is a printing issue.  The Dominion tabulators functioned exactly as they should in accordance with certification,” a Dominion spokesman said.  “We are actively working with Royal Printing and Mercer County election officials on this issue.”

Most county officials have slammed the Board of Elections for their failures.

Mercer County Clerk Paula Sollami Covello, whose office has nothing to do with counting votes, has asked the county prosecutor to initiate an investigation.   The county executive, Brian Hughes, has called for a thorough review and comprehensive overhaul.

“After issues in the last two elections, I have come to the conclusion that we must fundamentally change the management of the election process in Mercer County because it is clearly not working,” said Hughes. “There are legal limits to what I can do as County Executive but rest assured that I will do everything within my power to ensure the integrity of elections in Mercer County and will tolerate nothing less.”

Mercer County Democratic Chair Janice Mironov called the voting machine failures “a highly serious matter” in need of a full investigation and assurances that the problems won’t happen in future elections.

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