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Bridgewater Mayor Matt Moench.

Judge to decide Wednesday whether Republicans can appear on district 38 ballot

Mastrofilipo, Jerry Taylor filed only 38 signatures on time, citing technical difficulties

By Nikita Biryukov, April 13 2021 10:44 am

An Administrative Law Judge will rule by noon Wednesday whether to allow Republican Assembly candidates in the 38th legislative district who did not file all their signatures on time to appear on the ballot.

Administrative Law Judge Andrew Baron will decide whether to allow Republicans Alfonso Mastrofilipo and Jerry Taylor to appear on the ballot after they filed just 38 signatures ahead of the 4 p.m. deadline on filing day.

During Tuesday’s hearing, which ran for a little more than an hour, Matthew Moench, the candidates’ attorney, said they technical difficulties with the state’s electronic signature filing system blocked the Republicans from filing their petitions on time.

Though they successfully submitted candidate certifications and bracketing letters, Mastrofilipo testified he was unable to submit the remaining signatures on time because the scanned documents containing them were too large for the Division of Elections’ email system.

The Division of Elections website states in at least two places that the agency cannot accept digital filings larger than 25 megabytes. The files were roughly 135 megabytes and existed before the 4 p.m. deadline.

The Mastrofilipo-Taylor petitions were the only ones filed late out of 258 petitions for state office received by the Division of Elections, elections manager Donna Barber testified.

In traditional years, election officials strictly enforce the 4 p.m. deadline, though officials will process nominating petitions submitted after that so long as the filer shows up before the cutoff.

Baron pointed to that allowance, and Moench agreed, arguing that, because Mastrofilipo and Taylor should be allowed onto the ballot because they began filing documents before the deadline came.

The 38th district is solidly, if not overwhelmingly, Democratic.

Assemblywoman Lisa Swain (D-Fair Lawn) and Assemblyman Christopher Tully (D-Bergenfield) are seeking re-election there this year. They defeated their Republican challengers by about five points each in a four-way race for two seats in 2019.

Republican Richard Garcia is challenging State Sen. Joe Lagana (D-Paramus) for the district’s seat in the upper chamber.

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