The Republican National Committee has won a lawsuit against Mercer County after they failed to respond to a request for ballot cure letters in the last election, and the all-Democratic county could be forced to pay thousands of dollars in legal fees to the national GOP.
The RNC initiated a lawsuit in August after the Mercer County Board of Elections failed to provide them with ballot cure letter within the time required by state law.
Mercer County Assignment Judge Robert Lougy found that Mercer County failed to meet the seven-day requirement to respond under the state’ Open Public Records Act.
The RNC lawyers and County Counsel Paul Adezio are being given a chance to reach a settlement on legal fees.
“The Court affords the parties an opportunity to resolve counsel fees and costs by agreement,” Lougy wrote in his ruling.
The Republican National Committee was represented by their local counsel, Brian Nelson and Jason Sena of Archer & Grenier.
Republicans allege that Mercer County was in violation of the state’s Ballot Cure Act after they refused to respond to public document requests for the 2021 general election and the 2022 primary. The law permits voters to remediate their vote-by-mail ballots if they were rejected for a technical deficiency, such as a signature that does not match one on file.
Ballot cure letters are supposed to be publicly available within three days of being sent out.
It’s not immediately clear why Mercer County has decided to fight the issue in court on a law that the other 20 counties appear to follow.
While Mercer County rarely has close partisan elections, that could change this fall if the race between Rep. Andy Kim (D-Moorestown) and Republican Bob Healey turns out to be close.
If that happens, both sides would be chasing cure letters in Hamilton, Lawrence, East Windsor, West Windsor and Robbinsville for a November 19 deadline before the results of the election are certified on November 21.
The lawsuit could also affect contests for mayor and Trenton city council. Trenton moved their non-partisan municipal elections from May to November this year, and where runoffs typically occur.