Home>Campaigns>Possible delay in mailing Morris VBMs after judge schedules hearing six days after ballots due to go out

New Jersey Superior Court Judge Stuart Minkowitz. (Photo: New Jersey Globe).

Possible delay in mailing Morris VBMs after judge schedules hearing six days after ballots due to go out

Minkowitz will hear bid by county clerk candidate to get on ballot on April 28

By David Wildstein, April 06 2023 2:07 pm

The mailing of vote-by-mail ballots in Morris County could be delayed for at least a week as a slow-moving Superior Court Judge mulls a lawsuit by a candidate for county clerk who was tossed off the ballot.

Assignment Judge Stuart Minkowitz set an April 28 hearing date today to decide if Andrew Agliata can be on the ballot as a candidate for county clerk in the GOP primary.  Nominating petitions filed by Agliata and his running mate, county commissioner candidate Robert Snyder, were rejected because of issues related to their circulators.

Minkowitz set a briefing schedule that ends on April 24, four days before the April 28th hearing.

County clerks are required to commence the mailing of vote-by-mail ballots on April 22.

But the judge’s order did not halt the printing of ballots or today’s ballot draw.  That could mean Minkowitz is simply checking boxes and has no intention of putting Agliata on the ballot.

If Minkowitz were to rule in favor of Agliata on April 28, Morris County election officials might be forced to hold a new draw, and print – or reprint – ballots, something

It’s unclear why Minkowitz is not following a state law requiring Superior Court judges to hold a hearing within three days after a ballot access complaint is filed.   This applies to elections that cross county lines; Republican primaries for the legislature in the 24th and 26th districts do precisely that.

In those legislative primaries – among the most closely watched in the state – voters in Sussex, Warren, and Passaic counties could have an additional week to vote.  That potentially offers an advantage to the non-Morris County sections of the two districts.

The sluggishness of Minkowitz’s schedule stands in sharp contrast to the efficiencies of state administrative law judges who heard legislative petition challenges this year within one business day and then made quick rulings.

“I am appealing the decision made by the Morris County Clerk’s office in regards to three objections made against my petition to run for Morris County Clerk on the grounds that the decision was not impartial,” Agliata said in his court filing.

Agliata said he believes “they do not want any competition in the primary, and/or want to protect their ballot positioning as to give themselves the best chance at victory.”

“The objectors don’t have a problem with my candidacy directly, but do have a problem with what it represents,” he said.

Ann Grossi, the incumbent, challenged his petitions.  But Grossi has recused herself from election matters since she is on the ballot this year, and the deputy county clerk, Anne McMahon, decided to toss Agliata and Snyder.

Another candidate, Paul DeGroot, filed the challenge to Snyder’s petitions.

“Our campaign was made aware that their petitions were improperly circulated and notarized.  This was confirmed by eyewitness testimony and video evidence. Eyewitness testimony and video evidence of the petition signers confirmed that the circulator was not present when Republican voters signed the petitions for Snyder and Agliata,” a DeGroot campaign spokesperson said.

DeGroot is challenging incumbent Tayfun Selen, who has the organization line in Morris County.

The circulator on the petition is listed as Kevin Manci.

According to DeGroot, petitions for Snyder and Agliata were circulated by a Montville school board member who serves on the Morris GOP executive board.  While DeGroot’s campaign did not identify the person by name, the New Jersey Globe has identified her as Christine Fano.

This shady scheme of collecting signatures for these two ‘last day to file’ candidates was solely for the reason of creating confusion among Republicans and to hurt DeGroot’s campaign by pushing his bracket further off the ballot and diluting DeGroot’s chances for victory,” the DeGroot campaign alleged.  “Make no mistake, there are shady things going on, and schemes were hatched to protect Selen and the ‘Line.’  This woman did not identify the candidates she was collecting signatures for and misled the signers as to whom they were signing for.”

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