Shadowy perennial candidate Lisa McCormick will not be on the ballot for the June Democratic primary for governor after an administrative law judge found her nominating petitions to be fraudulent.
Judge Jeffrey Rabin found that none of the 1,951 signatures submitted by McCormick were valid.
Raj Parikh, the counsel to the New Jersey Democratic State Committee, argued that McCormick’s petition was the result of a mail-merge of an old voter data base and produced several witnesses who testified that they never signed the petitions even though their names appear as signatories.
In one instance, the petition was signed by “First Name Middle Name Last Name” – something an expert witness viewed as evidence of the mail merge.
At least two signers, Parikh said, were deceased. In some cases, signatories misspelled their own names or addresses.
Rabin found that Parikh offered “expert election procedures testimony which evidenced that respondent’s entire petition was fraudulently created without any input from actual voters.”
“Even without expert testimony, it appeared to the layman’s eye as if respondent McCormick had, at the last minute, simply created a template for completing individual single signature petition forms, and merely inserted the names and addresses of miscellaneous registered Democrats into the forms,” Rabin wrote in his ruling. “Not only did McCormick — and for that matter, Devine) — fail to respond to petitioner’s accusations, she failed to offer any affirmative proof that she had solicited and received valid signatures from registered voters who wished to support her candidacy.”
In his ruling, Rabin pointed to the testimony of George Losse, a technology specialist for the New Jersey Secretary of State.
“It was George Losse’s conclusion that respondent McCormick had not obtained signatures from the actual voters, but rather submitted a petition created totally by a computer mail merge program,” Rabin wrote.
In one case, a fake signer signed as “Jose8” and also showed a typed name as “Jose8.”
“This evidenced a mail merge computer program because it did not correct errors but instead perpetrated them,” Rabin said.
McCormick and her controversial life partner/campaign manager, James Devine, were no-shows at a court hearing on Monday – perhaps a smart move that avoided either of them being placed under oath.
“While election laws should be liberally construed so as not to deprive voters of their political voice, the laws cannot be circumvented using fraudulent methods,” Rabin said. “While it might be ideal to give voters more choices in primary elections, there was no evidence in the within matter that any registered voters had displayed interest in having Lisa McCormick on their primary ballot.”
Rabin said that McCormick “was given the opportunity to defend her petition but chose not to; conversely, petitioner provided evidence from experts in election procedures to show that respondent did not have any valid signatures.”
“The court unequivocally agreed with our position that Lisa McCormick and James Devine engaged in fraudulent, deceptive practices by using a mail merge program to create her campaign’s nominating petitions, instead of obtaining valid signatures from actual Democratic voters as is required by the law,” said Saily Avelenda, the executive director of the Democratic State Committee. “We await a final decision on this matter before evaluating our options. I want to thank the legal team and the NJDSC team for their thoroughness and commitment to upholding the democratic process.”
That leaves Gov. Phil Murphy unopposed for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination after another candidate, Roger Bacon was dropped from the ballot for not obtaining enough legal signatures.McCormick ALJ
This story was updated at 4:39 PM with comment from Avelenda.