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Assemblyman Ron Dancer. (Photo: NJ Assembly Republicans).

Dancer says state should foot the bill when its mistakes cause do-over elections

Assembly Republican plans to introduce legislation that would reimburse counties, municipalities

By Joey Fox, April 13 2022 3:04 pm

Assemblyman Ron Dancer (R-Plumsted) announced today that he will introduce legislation requiring the state to reimburse counties and municipalities for the costs of do-over elections if the cause of the election was a state-made mistake.

“Local special elections can cost tens of thousands of dollars in printing, postage, rental fees, and poll worker wages among other expenditures,” Dancer said in a statement. “Local property tax payers shouldn’t shoulder that burden if a mistake by the state forced the special election.”

Last month, the Middlesex County township of Old Bridge had to host a redo of a tight 2021 contest for Ward 6 after it was discovered that 27 voters had received ballots for the wrong ward. Superior Court Judge Thomas Daniel McCloskey determined that the fault for the mistake lay with the state Division of Elections’ voter database, which failed to properly assign voters on either side of an Old Bridge street to the proper ward.

The end result of the election was the same: Democrat Jill DeCaro beat Republican Councilman Mark Razzoli by 11 votes in the original November election, and by a larger 145-vote margin in the March do-over. But in order to achieve that result, Old Bridge had to pay for an entirely new election; if Dancer’s bill is passed, the effects would be retroactive to 2021 and the township could still get reimbursed.

“Although rare, mistakes do happen as we saw with the Old Bridge township council election last year,” Dancer said. “If the state made the error, the state must pay to correct it.”

According to Dancer, his prospective legislation already has the support of the New Jersey Association of Counties, which represents county-level government and officials.

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