Superior Court Judge Thomas C. Miller today set a hearing date of September 11 to decide if he’ll order a recount of votes for Hunterdon, Somerset and Warren counties from the July 7 Republican U.S. Senate primary.
Miller held a case management conference with Hirsh Singh, who filed recounts across the state after losing the primary to Rik Mehta by 8,727 votes, and Deputy Attorney General Beau Wilson.
It’s not immediately clear what Miller’s game plan is.
Singh filed his request for a recount on July 24 and didn’t get before the judge until today.
Election officials say that ballots for the November general election are expected to go to the printer late this week or early next week. All counties face a federal deadline of September 19 to mail military and overseas ballots.
Several counties have indicated their intention to mail ballots around the third week of September. Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order requires ballots for the general election to be mailed by October 6.
If Miller orders a hand recount for Hunterdon, Somerset and Warren – something judges across the state have already rejected – and if that recount somehow flipped the nomination from Mehta to Singh, a rather impossible feat, it’s unfathomable to imagine that legal challenges wouldn’t fatally impede a general election conducted primarily through vote-by-mail ballots.
Singh is representing himself and told Miller he didn’t fully understand the process.
The state had moved to dismiss the recount effort, saying that Singh never properly served other candidates and county election officials.
“I was waiting for the pending hearing to provide notice,” Singh told the judge.
Miller said he would not set a hearing date until all the parties were served.
“I can make sure that happens within less than 24 hours,” Singh said. “I did not know that I still had to do something.”
Another Superior Court Judge, Stuart Minkowitz, ordered a hand recount last month in Morris County, but told Singh he would have to post a bond to cover the $9,900 cost.
Minkowitz cancelled the recount last Friday after Singh never came up with the money.
“The cost made it too hard of a barrier for our campaign,” he said.
In a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19, Murphy moved the primary election from June to July. As a result, one month came off the other end as election officials race to prepare for the November election.