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New Jersey Superior Court Judge Stuart Minkowitz. (Photo:New Jersey Globe).

Judge sets conference on Morris Township election challenge

Mancuso leads by 15 votes, with 42 potentially glue-challenged ballots still uncounted

By David Wildstein, December 30 2019 10:27 am

Peter Mancuso will take the oath of office for another term on the Morris Township Committee on January 7, but the election is still not over.

Superior Court Judge Stuart Minkowitz has scheduled a case management conference at 2 PM on January 6 to review a challenge to the election,

Mancuso, an 82-year-old Republican who has served on and off since 1978, was declared the winner by 15 votes after a recount of the November 5 general election, but Democrats want to see if 42 uncounted provisional ballots will affect the outcome of the race.

Democrats have filed a legal challenge to open 42 provisional ballots remain uncounted because the envelope was unsealed – possibly as a result of defective glue.

The complaint, filed by the New Jersey Democratic State Committee and the Morris County Democratic Committee, includes affidavits from poll workers and eighteen voters stating that the envelope glue would not stick.

Gail Biggs, a ten-year poll worker, said that she witnessed about “three provisional ballots that were unable to be sealed via glue found on the envelope flap.”

“In each instance, the voter was struggling to get the envelope to seal after licking it and asked for assistance from myself or a colleague,” Biggs said.  “Notably, these ballots were not sticking at all and I did not observe any glue on the flap whatsoever.”

Biggs said she considered taping the envelopes shut, but was concerned that doing so would invalidate the ballot.

“After the voters were unable to seal the ballot it was placed securely with  the other provisional ballots at the poll workers’ table and later placed in a red bag that was sealed and returned  to the Board  of Elections after the polls closed,” Biggs said.

Biggs believes it was impossible to tamper with the unsealed ballots since they were being guarded by the poll workers “at all times.”

“None of the issues that I observed  with sealing  the  provisional  ballot  envelopes  were  the  fault of the voters, who cast their vote with complete privacy,” Biggs said.  “All such unsealed ballots maintained the same level of privacy and security as every other provisional ballot that was sealed without issue.”

The provisional ballot voters who signed affidavits say they attempted to seal their ballots, but the envelope would not close.

“I was never informed by the poll worker that failure to seal the envelope would result in the disqualification of my ballot,” each of the eighteen voters stated in the court filing. “I feel strongly that my vote should not be disenfranchised due to circumstances outside of my control and believe my ballot should be opened and counted.”

The Democratic State Committee is being represented by Raj Parikh of Genova Burns.  The attorney for the Morris Democrats is Scott Salmon of Jardim, Meisner & Susser.

Morris Township Parikh to Minkowitz
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