The New Jersey Attorney General’s office says election officials are simply too busy to conduct a hand recount of a Trenton city council race that was decided by just one vote.
Algernon Ward, Jr. is seeking a recount after Jennifer Williams, now the city councilwoman from Trenton’s North Ward, defeated him, 427 to 426.
“Requiring a hand-to-eye recount would prove unduly burdensome and difficult for both the (Mercer County) Board (of Elections) and the Superintendent given the tight timeline between the potential recount date and the preparations for the January 24, 2023 (at-large) runoff election,” said Deputy Attorney General Levi Klinger-Christiansen in documents filed on Monday.
Election officials say that voting machines will need to be reprogrammed by January 17 to be used in the upcoming runoff elections, something that is not necessarily true. Just twelve machines were used in the North Ward on Election Day and the county owns roughly 300 voting machines.
Instead, if Superior Court Judge William X. Anklowitz orders a recount, the attorney general’ office prefers the recount of the paper ballots be conducted as they normally would: through a re-scanning of the ballots.
“A hand-to-eye recount will substantially disrupt the preparation process generally,” stated Klinger-Christiansen. “As such, the court should order only a machine recount of the ballots to avoid this burdensome result.”
The attorney general’s office also opposes Ward’s request that the $25-per-machine recount charge be waived, saying Mercer County needs the $300 to offset the $2,200 fee that Dominion charges to conduct a recount on their machines.
Just two ward candidates won outright on November 8. Two more ward races were decided in a January 13 runoff, and three at-large council seats will be selected in the January 24 runoff.
Klinger-Christiansen also opposes the impounding of voting machines.
The attorney general’s office missed the court’s noon deadline by 76 minutes. They blamed technical issues.