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Assemblyman Gerry Scharfenberger (R-Middletown)

Scharfenberger bill would require database of election violations

By Nikita Biryukov, March 22 2021 11:15 am

A new bill introduced by Assemblyman Gerard Scharfenberger (R-Middletown) would require New Jersey’s State Department create a database of election violations, including civil rights breaches and fraud.

“Voters need to be confident that any incident which impacts our elections or their constitutionally guaranteed right to vote is not only noted, but dealt with swiftly,” Scharfenberger said. “No one, no eligible voter, should ever have to worry about such a thing — my bill will go a long way to keeping it that way.”

The measure would require state officials create an incident reporting and complaint database to track abuses, including voting-related civil rights violations and fraud.

It requires the incidents include information about the location and date of the incident, as well as a description and a list of actions taken by authorities in response to the complaint.

“Ensuring our elections remain honest and free from any possible fraud is a paramount issue,” Scharfenberger said. “This bill will not only give residents another tool to help identify and root out questionable acts, but allows officials the ability to keep track of any and all concerns. The cornerstone of our society is based in having honest elections and they must be protected at every turn.”

It would also command election officials to forward complaints to the state Attorney General and the U.S. Attorney. Under the bill, the State Department must submit a report detailing incidents to the governor and the legislature.

Though voter fraud remains incredibly rare nationally and in New Jersey, the state last year drew countrywide attention over voter fraud in Paterson’s May municipal elections.

Earlier this month a state grand jury indicted two sitting councilmen, Alex Mendez and Michael Jackson, over the irregularities, which saw hundreds of bundled vote-by-mail ballots stuffed into mailboxes.

“Ensuring our elections remain honest and free from any possible fraud is a paramount issue,” Scharfenberger said. “This bill will not only give residents another tool to help identify and root out questionable acts, but allows officials the ability to keep track of any and all concerns. The cornerstone of our society is based in having honest elections and they must be protected at every turn.”

It’s not clear how willing Democratic legislative leaders will be to move the bill. Though Republicans hold only a narrow 3,383-voter registration edge in the 13th district, elections there aren’t particularly close.

Scharfenberger and Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso (R-Holmdel) won their seats there by nine-point margins in 2019.

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