Middlesex County Clerk Nancy Pinkin has remailed vote-by-mail ballots for a contested election for Piscataway fire commissioner on Saturday after originally telling voters to vote for one candidate when two seats were up.
Two incumbents, John Buchek and Arthur Hayducka, face a challenge from William Lemire for two of five seats up this year on the township’s District 1 Fire Commission.
“They mailed out the wrong ballot the first time, and they’re mailing out the right ballot the second time,” Hayducka said.
Pinkin says the fire district is to blame.
“The ballots were designed in accordance to the information we were given by the fire district,” said Min Kim, a spokesperson for the county clerk. “The fire district was sent the ballot on February 2, 2023 for review prior to printing, and it was approved with no revisions.”
But Hayducka pushed back on Pinkin’s take, suggesting that the fault lies with the county clerk, who has final authority on the printing of the ballots.
“The county clerk is wrong,” he said. “It’s going to be a problem no matter what happens.
Kim said that the county clerk’s office was notified of the mistake on Monday, and replacement ballots were mailed to voters the following day at a cost of roughly $5,965.
She also said just two vote-by-mail ballots were returned before the mistake was caught. It’s not clear how – or if – the Middlesex County Board of Elections will count those ballots if the two voters don’t cast any other votes.
A message posted on the Piscataway Facebook page today acknowledged the mistake.
“Unfortunately, the ballots instructed voters to vote for only one candidate when in fact, voters can vote for up to two candidates,” the township noted in a statement Pinkin’s office helped craft. “Please dispose of the original ballot.”
Voters will also vote to approve or reject the 2023 fire district budget. The District 1 commissioners have proposed a zero-increase budget with a tax rate reduction of 10.53%.
Polls are open on Saturday from 2-9 M at the New Market Fire Company.