The Monmouth County Board of Elections are expected to ask a judge to order a recount of an Ocean Township school board race after their voting machine vendor, Election Systems and Software (ES&S), acknowledged on Tuesday that a human programming error caused some votes to be double counted, the New Jersey Globe has learned.
Frustration among election officials in Monmouth County from both parties has caused the election board to move forward despite the advice of the New Jersey Attorney General’s office and not recanvass and recertify the November 8 general election, two sources with direct knowledge of the board’s actions have confirmed.
Steve Clayton took office this month after Monmouth County certified his 20-vote victory over Jeffrey Weinstein. A new unofficial count on Tuesday puts Weinstein ahead by one vote.
“I’m excited abou the opportunity to keep serving the community,” Weinstein said. “I’m glad the problem was identifed and that they’re taking steps to recitify it.”
Local election officials are blaming Deputy Attorney General Susan Scott for a lack of transparency, saying her guidance was that there be no public statements the vote tabulation errors. The attorney general’s office, which acts as the legal counsel the county election board, became aware of the issue last week; so did New Jersey Secretary of State Tahesha Way.
It’s not clear if the Board of Elections has the statutory authority to revoke a certificate of election.
The attorney general’s office has not responded to requests for comment.
Scott has opposed a hand recount of ballots in the Ocean Township race, sources say.
Connor Manios, an account manager for ES&S, notified other New Jersey counties who use voting machines supplied by the Omaha-based company late yesterday. Manios has not answered multiple calls to her cell phone.
It’s not immediately clear if any other counties will face similar problems. It’s also not clear if the other counties are willing to permit ES&S to control the narrative with a nothing-to-see-here message.
ES&S maintains that a technician’s procedural error during the installation of election management software in July caused six voting districts in four municipalities – Belmar, Fair Haven, Tinton Falls and Ocean – to double count some votes.
The company, which services a large percentage of U.S. voting machines, sought to downplay the problem.
“In Monmouth County, the outcome of one race in the 2022 November General Election – a local, nonpartisan race – was affected due to USB flash media being loaded twice into the results reporting module,” said Katrina Granger, an ES&S spokesperson. “This isolated incident occurred due to a human procedural error. An audit of the system yielded this information.”
That’s not necessarily true. It was not an ES&S audit that found election results from two months ago to be inaccurate, but rather a coincidental review of an unrelated request under the state’s Open Public Records Act that led election officials to discover the error.
But fail-safes in the system failed to detect the error, as did a post-election audit conducted by the Monmouth County Board of Elections.
“The tabulation accuracy was 100%,” Tracee Johnson, the chief clerk at the Board of Elections, wrote in her audit report submitted to the Secretary of State last month.
Ocean had the only race that was close enough to affect the outcome.