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Passaic County Superintendent of Elections Shona Mack-Pollock. (Photo: Shona Mack-Pollock).

Close Passaic election sends GOP to court

Republicans want a full list of provisional ballot voters

By David Wildstein, November 15 2021 8:50 am

The Passaic County Board of Elections is set to resume counting votes from the November 2 general election this afternoon, for the first time since Wednesday, in contests where an incumbent county commissioner now trails by 11 votes and 710 votes separate candidates for Surrogate.

Passaic County Republicans are headed to court this morning in a bid to force the county superintendent of elections, Democrat Shona Mack-Pollock, to force election officials to produce a list of all voters who cast provisional ballots, along with their addresses, voter registration numbers and party identification.

The GOP wants Judge Ernest Caposella to halt the counting of about 4,000 provisional votes until the list is produced.   As many as 300 of these ballots might be invalid, the New Jersey Globe has learned.

Also uncounted are a scattering of vote-by-mail ballots initially rejected for technically defects but have now been cured.

Democrat Zoila Cassanova has taken a 710-vote lead in the race for Passaic County Surrogate, and another Democrat, John Bartlett, is now trailing by just 11 votes in his bid for re-election to as county commissioner.

Cassanova had trailed Republican Aisha Mamkej by 224 votes before remaining vote-by-mail ballots were counted on Wednesday.

County Commissioner Sandi Lazzara, a Democrat, leads the balloting with 50,367 votes.  Republicans Nick Gallo, a Totowa landscaper, is in second place with 49,953.

Wayne Councilwoman Lucy Rivera has a narrow lead over Bartlett for the third seat, 49,392 to 49,381.

Veteran Ringwood Councilman William Marsala is running fifth with 49,300 votes, just 81 votes behind Bartlett and 92 behind his running mate, Rivera.

A Democratic incumbent, Assad Akhter, is running sixth with 48,321 – 1,071 votes out of third place.

Last week, Gallo and Rivera led with Lazzara up by 74 and Bartlett 830 votes out of third place.

Republicans haven’t won a county commissioner race in Passaic since 2009 and last won a Surrogate contest in 1992.

Cassanova and Mamkej are seeking to replace Surrogate Bernice Toledo, who did not seek re-election.  She was criminally charged in August with “allegedly falsifying a judgment she filed in order to make an improper appointment of an estate administrator.   The Supreme Court has suspended her with pay.

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