Home>Campaigns>With ballots going out in 30 days, appellate judges assigned in Howell election case

Superior Court Judge Kathleen Sheedy. (Photo: NJ Globe).

With ballots going out in 30 days, appellate judges assigned in Howell election case

Oral arguments on primary election challenge filed in April are set for September 12

By David Wildstein, August 25 2022 4:07 pm

Judges have finally been assigned to hear oral arguments in a controversial election law case that substantially changes the way candidates may gather signatures to get on the ballot in New Jersey.

A court spokesman said on Thursday that Appellate Judges Mary Gibbons Whipple, Hany A. Mawl and Morris G. Smith will be on the panel that hears oral arguments next moth in a challenge to a trial court ruling that permitted two Republicans township council candidates to get on the June primary election ballot even though they fell short of the required number of signatures.

Superior Court Judge Kathleen Sheedy allowed the candidates, Fred Gasior and Susan Fischer, to combine their petitions with another candidate, Ian Nadel, in order to make the 50-signature minimum.

If upheld, the Sheedy decision that allowed the two Republicans to piggyback one completed by their running mate effectively sets aside a requirement that the names of candidates appear on the petition prior to being circulated.

Petitions typically ask signatories to attest that, “we endorse the candidates named in this petition…and we request that you print upon the official primary ballot for this party the names of the candidates for such nomination.”

After initially staying Sheedy’s ruling, Mawla suddenly reversed course in April to reject an emergent appeal and allow the primary to continue.  He set up a briefing schedule that began on June 10 – three days after the primary – and end on July 21.  Later, the deadline was extended to August 1.

It is unclear who has read the briefs over the last three weeks since the judges were just assigned today.  A court spokesman declined comment.

With oral arguments set for September 12, the courts have left virtually no option – short of postponing the election – to invalidate Sheedy’s ruling and hold a new primary.

Federal election law requires county clerks to begin mailing general election ballots on September 24.

John Hughes, a Howell resident, filed the appeal.  His best hope appears to get the Sheedy decision overturned  for future elections.

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