Home>Feature>Murphy declines to endorse, condemn deputy attorney general’s call for election monitors in campaign headquarters

Gov. Phil Murphy. Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe

Murphy declines to endorse, condemn deputy attorney general’s call for election monitors in campaign headquarters

Governor: ‘I have no insight’

By Nikita Biryukov, August 19 2020 3:52 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy declined to say whether he agreed with a deputy attorney general’s call for election monitors to be placed inside of certain campaign headquarters and track campaign workers to ensure a fair November election in Paterson.

“I have no insight,” the governor said. “If we get some insight, we’ll come back to you, but I don’t have any insight for you.”

In a hearing before Passaic County Superior Court Judge Ernest Caposela held Wednesday morning, Deputy Attorney General George Cohen, representing the Passaic County Board of Elections, suggested sending election monitors into campaign headquarters as a means of preventing fraud.

“This is not a shot at the candidates, but frankly if you’re going to appoint a monitor, I think it would be good to have monitors at the campaign headquarters of the candidates and to follow their campaign workers around  to make sure there is no misdoing, because that’s where the problems were, allegedly,” Cohen said. “Let the campaigns pay for campaign monitors and let them sit at campaign offices to make sure no one’s going out and collecting five, 10, or 500 ballots at a time.”

Democratic State Chairman John Currie, a close Murphy ally, serves as chair of the Passaic County Board of elections.

Matt Platkin, Murphy’s chief counsel, said the state hasn’t adopted Cohen’s stance on election monitors.

“The state’s not a party [to the suit],” he said. “He wasn’t representing the state. I haven’t seen the comments, but that’s not a position the state has taken.”

Allegations of voter fraud in Paterson’s non-partisan May election have seen voter fraud charges filed against councilman-elect Alex Mendez and Councilman Michael Jackson, among others.

Mendez led incumbent Councilman William McKoy by 240 votes when he was charged, and Caposela has blocked the supposed victor from taking office.

The race saw 900 ballots bulk mailed from three mailboxes, including more than 300 ballots rubber-banded together and mailed from a mailbox in neighboring Haledon.

State election law limits bearers to carrying three ballots.

Earlier Wednesday, Caposela ordered a special election to fill the vacant City Council seat.

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