A do-over election in Old Bridge, where a Superior Court Judge invalidated the results of a 2021 council race because some voters received the wrong ballot, is on hold for now.
Appellate Court Judge Carmen Messano issued a stay of Judge Thomas Daniel McCloskey’s order that voters return to the polls on March 22 to determine the outcome of the Ward 4 council race as it considers an appeal filed by Democrat Jill DeCaro.
DeCaro appeared to have defeated the Republican incumbent, Mark Razzoli, by 11 votes in the November election. But McCloskey found that 27 voters received the wrong ballots.
Messano ordered DeCaro’s attorney, Daniel Antonelli, to file an emergent motion by 4 PM tomorrow. Tim Howes, an attorney for Razzoli, must file his opposition motion by noon on Friday.
It’s not clear how long it will take Messano and another appellate judge, Lisa Rose, to rule on the appeal. Anything more than a week could delay the date of the new election. Vote-by-mail ballots are due to go out on February 5.
The council seat remains vacant until the votes of a new election are certified unless the appellate court overturns McCloskey’s invalidation of the election.
McCloskey found the state Division of Elections at fault, saying their statewide voter database didn’t properly follow boundaries set in the 2011 ward redistricting map put voters from the odd numbered homes on one side of Cymbeline Drive in Ward 2, and the even numbered homes on the opposite side of Cymbeline Drive residing in the Ward 4.
He turned down DeCaro’s bid for a stay last week.
Old Bridge was set to be one of two municipalities holding court-ordered repeat elections in March.
After more than a year of vote-counting and court battles, South Toms River will finally hold a special election to fill a borough council seat on March 15. The November 2020 race ended in a tie between a Republican councilman and his Democratic challenger.
Inexplicably, it took the appellate judges four months to hear the case and another three months to issue their ruling. The delays meant that voters didn’t get to fill the seat in the November 2021 general election; instead, Ocean County must pay the costs for a new election.