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A voting machine manufactured by Election Systems and Software. (Photo: ES&S).

N.J. election officials knew about voting machine issues in November

Belmar man caught inconsistencies and questioned local election officicials before results were certified and before post-election audit

By David Wildstein, January 18 2023 6:02 pm

The Monmouth County Superintendent of Elections office was notified nearly nine weeks ago that general election vote totals didn’t add up, but they didn’t stop the certification of the election results.

James Bean, a former Belmar councilman, filed a request under New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act on November 21, 2022 after noticing inconsistencies in his hometown election results.

Belmar is one of four towns where some votes were double counted.  Election Systems and Software (ES&S), Monmouth County’s voting machine supplier, yesterday acknowledged that a procedural error during the installation of election management software in July created the problem.   Fail-safes failed, and an election audit conducted after Bean’s notification reported that “the tabulation accuracy was 100%.”

The internal investigation into the problems associated with ES&S and the election results was first brought to the attention of county election officials in mid-December, the New Jersey Globe has confirmed.

In the race for Belmar mayor, a total of 2,512 votes were cast, but election results certified by Monmouth County showed a total of 2,823 votes cast for the two candidates, Democrat Gerald Buccafusco and Republican Mark Walsifer.  Buccafusco won by 111 votes, but tallies show 311 more votes were counted than the total cast on November 8.

“I emailed everyone over there for weeks and I couldn’t get an answer,” Bean told the New Jersey Globe.  “Nobody in the county can tell me where these 311 votes came from.”

The superintendent’s office did not respond to him until December 12.

In a follow-up, Bean asked a secretary at superintendent’s office to explain how more votes could be counted in Belmar than were cast.

“I don’t know if this is helpful or not, but it’s what I’m thinking.  The reports I sent go by parameters in the computer system.   The website with election results belongs to the county clerk, my office isn’t involved in what get posted there.  Remember though, that the lists I sent are who voted, not who they voted for.  The Clerk’s information is who got how many votes,” the superintendent’s office employee told Bean in a December 14 email.  “It’s like comparing apples to oranges if you will.  Numbers will not exactly match.”

That might be accurate if the total votes cast exceeded the candidates’ totals, but in  this case, it was the reverse: more votes counted than reported cast.

The Monmouth County Board of Elections plans to seek a court-ordered recount.   Senate Majority Conference Leader Vin Gopal, a Monmouth County Democrat, has asked the New Jersey Attorney General and U.S. Attorney to launch an investigation.

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