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New Jersey Appellate Court Judge Hany Mawla. (Photo: New Jersey Administrative Office of the Courts).

Judge orders Union County to stop printing ballots

Appellate Court to consider county commissioner petition challenge

By David Wildstein, April 22 2022 7:11 pm

A state appellate court judge has ordered Union County to halt the printing and mailing of ballots for the June primary election until at least next week after agreeing to hear an appeal filed by three off-the-line candidates for Union County Commissioner.

The order by a state court judge appears to conflict with a federal law which requires military and overseas ballots to be mailed starting on Saturday, April 23 – 45 days before the primary election.  That deadline will now be missed.

After a thorough two-day review, Superior Court Judge Alan Lesnewich tossed the three candidates — Mario Cornejo, Janet Reynolds and Patrick Busch – off the ballot after failing to obtain the 100 signatures required to run for countywide office.

But after Lesnewich refused a bid by the candidates to stay his ruling pending an appeal, Judge Hany A. Mawla, an appellate court judge, ordered the printing of ballots to be stopped “pending further order of this court.”

The “Democrats for Change” candidates filed with 149 signatures and were left with just 97 valid ones – three short – after a challenge and judicial review.

Mawla and another appellate judge, Michael J. Haas, have not yet scheduled a hearing.  Briefs from the attorney representing Cornejo, Reynolds and Bush, Nakicha Joseph, are due at noon Monday.  Opposition briefs are due 24 hours later.

It’s not clear why petition challenge appeals in Howell and Union County went to the same panel of judges, since one case must inexplicably wait while the other is considered.

Republican ballots are not affected and will go out on time.

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