A Superior Court judge will hear a motion to recount and recheck some voting machines in Monmouth County this morning after software failures by the manufacturer, Election Systems & Software (ES&S), resulted in the double counting of votes in the November 2022 general election.
ES&S, the largest U.S. manufacturer of voting machines, admitted last month that a fail-safe system failed after a “human procedural error” during a July software installation missed a step set up to prevent flash drives that transfers election results from voting machines to tabulation systems from being loaded more than once.
New Jersey Attorney General Matt Platin has ordered an investigation into failures by ES&S voting machine equipment, rejecting the company’s narrative without conducting a thorough probe.
The judge, David F. Bauman, rejected a request by the New Jersey Globe to livestream the court proceeding to give Monmouth County residents and others the opportunity to watch the hearing online.
“Public confidence in elections is low; transparency and sunlight can help restore faith that the outcome of elections are fair and lawful,” the New Jersey Globe wrote in a letter to Bauman. “Election matters ought to be discussed in public squares and never behind closed doors.”
Local election officials want new tallies in the four municipalities affected by the glitch: Ocean Township, Belmar, Fair Haven, and Tinton Falls.
The results of at least one contest, a race for a school board seat in Ocean County, is now in question. An informal tally that has not been released publicly shows Steve Clayton, who was certified as the winner of the November election and was sworn in earlier this month, now trails incumbent Jeff Weinstein by one vote.
The recount request was filed by the state attorney general’s office on behalf of the Superintendent of Elections and the Board of Elections. An attorney representing the county clerk, Jason Sena, supports the recount.
“The unusual issues underlying this case must be resolved in an open and transparent manner so that the County’s election officials can appropriately discharge their duties relative to November 8, 2022, General Election as soon as possible,” Sena said in a court filing. “The relief sought accomplishes those goals, will foster public confidence in the outcomes of the elections in the five municipalities at issue, and should be granted without delay.”
Clayton’s attorney, Scott Salmon, took no position on a recount but noted that state election law doesn’t permit the Monmouth County Board of Elections to initiate the request for a recount.
“Obviously, this matter appears to be a unique situation. However, that does not mean this Court is entitled to effectively write new law,” Salmon said in his filing with the court. “It is well-established that the court’s role in interpreting a statute ‘is to determine and effectuate the Legislature’s intent.’”