Home>Campaigns>Gloucester judge says county clerk can decide ballot drop box locations if election officials can’t agree

Gloucester County Clerk James Hogan. (Photo: Facebook.)

Gloucester judge says county clerk can decide ballot drop box locations if election officials can’t agree

Judge Mary Beth Kramer: ‘The court recognizes that this election poses unprecedented challenges’

By David Wildstein, September 25 2020 10:12 am

The installation of secure ballot drop boxes are back on track after a Superior Court Judge dissolved a previous injunction.

Judge Mary Beth Kramer ruled that Gloucester County Clerk James Hogan had the discretion to supplant a deadlocked county Board of Elections (BOE) vote on the locations of ballot drop boxes and polling locations.

Hogan’s attorney, John M. Carbone, argued that Hogan, a constitutional officer, was an umpire and not a player in the process.

“The goal is to allow all voters the opportunity to safely cast their vote. The BOE has agreed on thirteen county-wide locations for ballot drop boxes. Unfortunately, they are at an impasse over the location of the polling places,” said Kramer in a written decision.  “As a practical matter, time is running out. Given the circumstances and the impasse on the BOE, Defendant Hogan, as County Clerk, is statutorily vested with the authority to select the polling places. There is no credible evidence at this time that his plan will be contrary to the requirements of EO 177.”

Earlier this week, Kramer blocked Gloucester County from installing secure ballot drop boxes for the general election until she holds a hearing on Monday after Republicans complained that only Democratic election officials decided the locations.

The two Republican commissioners, Carmine DiNovi, Jr. and David Ferrucci, said in affidavits that they were never consulted.

Jacci Vigilante, the Gloucester County GOP chair, alleged that the locations were picked to maximize Democratic turnout.

In court filings, DiNovi and Ferrucci claimed they attempted to arrange a meeting “to discuss the BOE’s responsibilities in the upcoming election,” but the decision was made without them.

“While the court encourages the BOE to reach an agreement regarding the polling locations, the court cannot order the BOE to do so. There is a statutory remedy to address the stalemate,” Kramer wrote in her decision.  “As the BOE has not been able to reach a consensus, the responsibility for the selection of the polling places defaults to the County Clerk to select locations in compliance with EO177.”

Jmc gloucester Hogan BOE issues Vigilante, et al vs GCBOE (L-1005-20)
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