A total of 33 voting machines, mostly for polling locations in Newark’s predominately Black Central, South and West Wards, were not delivered before the polls opened at 6 AM this morning.
It’s not clear what time they finally arrived this morning.
“My understanding is that they have been delivered,” said Patty Spango, the new Essex County Superintendent of Elections.
But Spango refused to answer any questions regarding the circumstances of the delays.
“No comment,” she said before hanging up.
The New Jersey Globe has learned that Spango was aware of the issue around 10 PM on Monday but was not able to handle the issue during the eight-hour period between learning that 33 voting machines had not been delivered and the opening of the polls.
Voters instead used provisional, paper ballots.
The Newark-based Brantley Bros. Moving & Storage company was hired to deliver voting machines from the county election warehouse in Belleville to polling locations across Essex County.
The company decided to start with locations furthest away from their location and work their way back to Newark. They ended up last night with 33 undelivered machines before drivers went home and resumed their deliveries after 6 AM.
Isaac (Ike) King, the owner of Brantley Bros., told the New Jersey Globe that when his trucks arrived at some locations, they were closed. He also said that the Spango’s office had provided them with incorrect contact information in some cases.
King acknowledged that two voting machines remained on his truck overnight and were not returned to the voting machine warehouse.
“Unfortunately, there were 23 polling locations where the delivery of voting machines were the delivery of voting machines was delayed and machines were not available when the polls opened at 6 AM,” said Spango. “Voters were given the opportunity to cast their votes using provisional ballots, which is standard procedures when there are issues with the voting machines.”
A Superior Court Judge has been asked to keep the polling locations open late, Spango said.
“We do support keeping polling locations open beyond 8 PM to ensure every registered voter has an opportunity to exercise their right to vote and will abide by the court’s ruling,” Spango stated. “After the election, we will review our election plans and make alterations so that a situation like this does not occur again.”
In unrelated news, Dominion Voting Systems did not deliver remote card readers for new election machines that went into service in Essex County today.
Just five readers are available for today’s primary election, and they will be used in Essex’s largest municipalities.
The result will mean a delay in results being uploaded into the system, since voting machine cartridges will need to be hand-delivered to Newark for vote counts to occur.
Spango, a former West Orange Council President, was named to the post earlier this year to replace Edna Baugh, a Republican who retired after the 2020 election. She had previously served as deputy superintendent.
Spango, a two-term councilwoman, is a longtime player in Democratic politics. He son, James Spango, is the mayor of Roseland and the chief of the Essex County Sheriff’s Department. She is the former owner of Starlite Pizza in West Orange.
This story was updated at 2:29 PM and at 4:57 PM.