Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) and State Sen. Michael Testa (R-Vineland) called on Cumberland County’s Freeholder Board to ballot counting procedures there that they say have unacceptably delayed election results.
“We understand that this year’s election presented more challenges, but there are no excuses for the prolonged delays that have plagued the processing of ballots in Cumberland County,” they said in a joint statement. “They say they won’t have complete county results until next week. This has contributed to uncertainty and doubt for voters who participated in the democratic process. They deserve better.”
Counts in Cumberland remain incomplete despite the relatively small number of ballots cast there. Figures provided by the New Jersey Secretary of State’s office say officials in the county have received 59,992 mail-in ballots, less than all but two New Jersey Counties.
Both of those counties have fewer registered voters than Cumberland. The county has reported an processed — not counted — an additional 711 provisional ballots, though there were likely more provisional ballots cast there.
“We call on the Cumberland County commissioners to conduct a thorough review to determine what is going wrong and how it should be corrected,” the senators said. “We should create a blue-ribbon commission to fix the Cumberland County Board of Elections. We don’t want to see these mistakes repeated.”
The County Board of Elections intends to reconvene to resume counting outstanding mail-in and provisional ballots Monday morning, just two days before the state’s ballot cure deadline and just four days ahead of the deadline to certify election results.
Judges allowed multiple counties a one-week extension to tally results for the state’s primary election, though election officials were then barred from canvassing ballots before election day.
Public results were last updated on the night of Nov. 10 and then showed 59,132 counted ballots.
Testa, Cumberland County’s Republican chairman, made a play for control of the freeholder board this year, a move that puts him firmly opposite Sweeney, district and sphere of influence include Cumberland.
“This is not a partisan issue,” the senators said. “The two of us have strong disagreements on the candidates and the issues, but we all agree on the importance of an election process that is fair, complete and timely. Every vote should count, and every voter should have confidence that their vote counts.”