Old Bridge Councilman Mark Razzoli is challenging his 11-vote defeat in the November 2 general election, alleging that Middlesex County Clerk Nancy Pinkin put 33 voters in the wrong ward.
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Democrat Jill DeCaro defeated Razzoli, 1,554 to 1,543, in the race for the Ward 4 township council seat.
But in an election contest filed on Thursday, Timothy Howes, an attorney for Razzoli, says that Pinkin didn’t follow the boundaries set in the 2011 ward redistricting map that placed voters who live on the even-numbered side of Cymbeline Drive in Ward 2 when they should have been in the Ward 4.
“With one exception, the voters on the even-numbered side of Cymbeline Drive who received vote-by-mail ballots received ballots for the Second Ward. They should have received ballot for the Fourth Ward,” Howes said in his filing. “Voters on the even-numbered side of Cymbeline Drive who voted in polling places were directed to vote in the Second Ward.”
The Statewide Voter Registration System correctly places voters on the even-numbered side of Ward 4, according to a review by the New Jersey Globe.
Republicans are also challenging an additional fifteen emergency ballots were cast in Old Bridge’s Ward 4, saying that provisional ballots should have been used and that DeCaro won emergency ballots by a 12-3 vote.
“The use of Emergency Ballots was not legal because the district board workers were not able to verify the voters using the electronic poll books due to problems with Wi-Fi in the polling places,” Howes stated in his complaint.
Additionally, Howes alleges irregularities in several vote-by-mail ballots at a high-density senior housing complex at 100 Ticetown Road.
Razzoli’s challenge mirrors one from Atlantic County last year, when the county clerk mailed the wrong ballot to 554 voters in Hamilton Township in a race for a district county commissioner that was decided by just 286 votes.
After a protracted legal battle, Superior Court Judge Joseph Marczyk ordered a do-over election in that race. While Democrat Thelma Witherspoon defeated Republican Andrew Parker in 2020, the political climate changed dramatically in one year and Parker won the new election by 2,140 votes.
Howes represented Parker in that challenge. The county clerk, Ed McGettigan, wound up not seeking re-election this year after Democrats hinted that his election screwup could cost him the organization line.
Superior Court Judge Thomas Daniel McCloskey has set a trial date for the election challenge for December 22.
Republicans are asking McCloskey to invalidate the election results and order a special election to be held early next year. That would prevent DeCaro from being sworn in when the Old Bridge Township Council reorganizes in January.
This would represent a monumental muck up for Pinkin, a former Democratic assemblywoman who was elected county clerk last year. Taxpayers would be forced to pick up the tab for Pinkin’s mistake.
In Rochelle Park last year, Superior Court Judge Estela De La Cruz ordered the township committee to hold off the swearing-in of Democrat Mark Warren until she could determine a Republican election challenge. That resulted in a two-vote victory for Republican Perrin Mosca, who wasn’t sworn in until late February.
Razzoli had initially won the council seat as a Democrat and switched parties after losing a mayoral primary in 2019. He was the Republican nominee for Congress in New Jersey’s 12th district in 2020 but lost to Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman.
Democratic Councilman David Merin, who defeated Razzoli in the race for mayor and then lost the general election to incumbent Owen Henry, lost his Ward 1 seat to Republican Kevin Garcia by 61 votes.
Republicans were expected to hold a 7-2 majority on the township council. That could go to 7-1 if the results of last month’s election are invalidated. That means newly-elected Democrat Kiran Desai would not have another Democrat to second any motions he might make, at least until the results of a do-over election are certified.
Pinkin did not immediately respond to an 11:02 AM call on her cell phone or subsequent text messages and calls to her county office.