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Cedar Grove Councilman Harry Kumburis rings a doorbell after 10 PM on Election Night

Legislators seek law change to prevent voting after polls close

Respond to possible attempt to add vote-by-mail ballots after voting ended in Cedar Grove

By David Wildstein, May 20 2019 2:27 pm

Three legislators who represent Cedar Grove are introducing legislation that would prevent voters from returning vote-by-mail ballots after the polls have closed.

The action comes days after Cedar Grove councilman Harry Kumburis was caught ringing the doorbell of a voter who had not returned a VBM ballot after 10 PM after losing the election by 33 votes in the May 14 non-partisan municipal election.

The Essex County Board of Elections has referred the matter to federal and state prosecutors after receiving a report from the Newark Post Office that a man showed late that night seeking a postmark on five vote-by-mail ballots for the Cedar Grove election.

The New Jersey Globe was first to report that police officers responded to the Cedar Grove residence after Kumburis was record on video ringing the doorbell late at night.

“Anyone who has the audacity to bang on doors at 10:30 p.m. to round up extra votes has no business serving in government. That’s an egregious violation of public trust,” said State Sen. Kristin Corrado (R-Totowa). “Until we take corrective action to limit the overreach of these new mail-in-ballot laws, people like Harry Kumburis will continue to exploit the system – and they won’t always be caught on tape. There is no greater threat to our local democracy than a candidate who is so consumed by power that they will do anything to win. Let’s fix this law now, before another election is put in jeopardy.”

Assemblymen Christopher DePhillips (R-Wyckoff) and Kevin Rooney (R-Wyckoff) are sponsoring he bill in the lower house.

The proposal seeks to repeal a section in New Jersey’s new VBM law so that ballots filed after polls close on Election Day would not be counted.  The legislators also want to increase the penalties for bearers who exceed the legal limit of three ballots.

“Voters shouldn’t have to question the legitimacy of our elections. They should leave their polling place with a sense of pride, knowing that they have done their civic duty and that their vote matters. Anyone who tries to steal votes must be held accountable,” DePhillips said. “This case proves that we need a much stronger deterrent to prevent voter fraud in Cedar Grove, and across New Jersey. I hope that we can come together on a bipartisan basis to take action to prevent these crimes from occurring in communities statewide.”

Rooney called fair elections a “sacred responsibility.”

“It’s central to who we are as Americans. Anyone who tries to threaten our democracy should face a punishment that fits the crime,” Rooney said. “This commonsense bill would upgrade the penalties for breaking the law and correct the sweeping changes Governor Murphy made in 2018, so we can stop people from trying to rig elections, once and for all.”

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