Contact tracing of two ballot cast in the May 12 election for city council in Paterson’s 2nd ward show two uncounted and potentially decisive votes took a circuitous to reach the Board of Elections.
On Election Day, Carlos A. Gonzalez told the New Jersey Globe that he dropped mail-in ballots for himself and his wife at the West Paterson Post Office in Woodland Park. Both ballots are postmarked May 12.
The final destination was the Passaic County Board of Elections in Paterson, 2.9 miles away.
Gonzalez’s ballot didn’t arrive until June 2. His wife’s ballot arrived twelve days earlier on May 20.
The post office in Woodland Park is a sub-station of the Little Falls Post Office, so all mail dropped at that location is moved 2.2 miles west to that location.
All mail from Little Falls is sent 16.6 miles southeast to the U.S. Postal Service Processing Center in Kearny.
Once the Gonzalez ballots hit Kearny, they were sorted and routed to the U.S. Post Office in Paterson, a 16.1 mile, 21 minute trek that would likely – of it were an express route – send postal workers west on Route 280 to the Garden State Parkway North to Clifton. The truck could exit at Hazel Avenue and take local roads into Paterson.
From the Paterson Post Office, the letter carrier might navigate his or her way down Getty Avenue to the end. The Board of Elections is on the corner of Getty Avenue and Grand Street. The 1.5 mile trip should take about six minutes.
Assuming no connections or stop-overs, the Post Office turned a 2.9 mile trip into a 46.4 mile expedition.
The U.S. Post Office had until close of business on Thursday to deliver the Gonzalez’s ballots to elections officials.
According to Google Maps, a letter carrier could have walked the entire route in a little more than nine hours, or by bicycle in slightly less than three hours.
Gonzalez said that he and his wife voted for Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman, trails incumbent Shahin Khalique by just one vote. A Superior Court Judge has set a second recount for tomorrow.
If the U.S. Post Office had delivered the two Gonzalez ballots on time, the outcome of the election might be different.
Gonzalez lives 2.4 miles from the Board of Elections. If could have delivered his ballots directly to them if he wanted to pay for parking and sign in as a bearer for his wife’s ballot. If he didn’t fill out that portion of her ballot, it wouldn’t have counted anyway.
Editor’s Note: An early version of this story sated that Kearny was southwest of Little Falls. It is southeast.