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Superior Court Judge Benjamin Telsey.

Another hearing on Gloucester recounts set for Dec. 11

Judge wants more information about purportedly inaccurate tallies

By Nikita Biryukov, November 24 2020 5:30 pm

A  Superior Court Judge said he wanted more information about purported ballot-counting inaccuracies before approving recount requests in four Gloucester County races.

Republican candidates in three local races and one GOP freeholder candidate filed for recounts after final tallies showed them trailing Democratic opponents.

Nick DeSilvio, the freeholder candidate, filed for a recount after final results showed him trailing Democratic Freeholder Lyman Barnes by 1,944 votes, 84,317-82,373.

In Harrison, Republican challenger Daniel Ross filed for a recount after final tallies showed him trailing independent Township Committeewoman Julie DeLaurentis by 24 votes, 3,090-3,066.

Republican Christopher Wilson filed for a recount in Pitman after final tallies showed him trailing Pitman Councilman Matt Weng by 75 votes, 2,779-2,704.

Republican Township Committee candidate Jonathan Fein filed for a recount in Woolwich after placing third in a race for two seats. He trailed Democratic Mayor Vernon Marino 3,714-3,631, a 83-vote margin.

The candidates, represented by Chris Dasti of Dasti & Associates, charged that the state’s all-mail election caused inaccurate totals to be reported, and argument Judge Benjamin Telsey said needed more supporting evidence.

“First of all, I don’t find that it being an exclusive vote-by-mail election suggests, in any way, that there is an error in totaling the votes or counting the votes,” he said. “I need more than that to see the petitions met their standard.”

Telsey gave Dasti until Dec. 1 to submit certifications from challengers the attorney said informed his clients about possible vote counting errors.

“The petitioners’ attorney has represented that they have this information based upon knowledge of workers or challengers at the scene at the time the votes were counted,” Telsey said. “I wonder how that happened, to be quite candid with you. From their standpoint, what did they do? Did they see votes or ballots that were stuck together that were miscounted? I’m very curious to see the basis of it.”

A Superior Court judge on Tuesday tossed a recount request that charged the state’s mostly mail election led to faulty tallies, ruling that general claims seeking to impugn the accuracy of the count were insufficient reason to launch a recount.

Deputy Attorney General Dominic Giova, who represents the Gloucester County Board of Elections, did not oppose the Republicans’ bid for a recount, but asked in a filing that it be held after the board completes its election audit on Dec. 11.

The judge scheduled a new hearing that same day.

Telsey declined to waive recount fees — $25 for each district in which paper ballots are to be recounted and $2 where machine totals are to be checked—meaning the Republicans will have to pay $6,183 to launch the countywide recount.

That won’t cover the cost of the recount, which Gloucester County Board of Elections Chairman Christopher Powell said would take 40 board workers 25 days to complete if a recount was ordered for the freeholder race. Recounts for Pitman and Woolwich would each take a day, while a Harrison recount could take a day and a half.

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