Home>Articles>Grossi to clerks: Don’t ask me, get a lawyer

Morris County Clerk Ann Grossi

Grossi to clerks: Don’t ask me, get a lawyer

Morris County Clerk declines to offer guidance on write-in rules

By David Wildstein, June 05 2018 12:59 am

Already hauled into court twice this year, embattled Morris County Clerk Ann Grossi is punting decisions on write-in votes for county committee to the individual municipal attorneys in all 39 towns.

Several municipal clerks have reached out to Grossi’s office seeking guidance on how to determine write-in winners in a county where 37% of all Republican county committee seats have no candidates running just a week before the top GOP county elects a new leader.

The issue is that Grossi had previously advised municipal clerks that Republican candidates needed five votes and Democrats just one – the same as needed for nominating petitions.  But in April, Superior Court Judge Ernest Caposela ruled that Grossi didn’t understand state election law and ordered Morris County to follow statutory guidelines.

Several municipal clerks, anticipating write-in votes in today’s primary in districts where no candidate filed petitions, have asked Grossi for the new guidelines.

On that, Grossi, who has officially recused herself from the 2018 elections since she is a candidate for re-election, has nothing to say.

In an e-mail sent to municipal clerks at 4:16 PM  on Monday – less than fifteen minutes before many of them close for the day – Deputy County Clerk John Wojtaszek sent an e-mail acknowledging that Grossi has “received numerous request for guidance concerning.”

“The Morris County Clerk’s Office strongly urge you to contact your Township Attorney for advice and guidance,” Wojtaszek said.  “The Morris County Clerk’s Office neither endorses nor vouches for the accuracy of the information contained in the NJ Clerk’s Desk Reference and stresses that you must contact your Township Attorney for a definitive answer.”

To make matters worse, Wojtaszek ends his e-mail with a disclaimer: “The Morris County Clerk’s Office makes no representations, legal or otherwise, regarding the content of this communication and it should not be relied upon as providing an answer and/or legal advice.  Any questions should be directed to your Municipal Township Attorney a she/she is the only person to provide guidance or legal advice.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Morris County had 41 municipalities.  The number is 39.

Spread the news:

 RELATED ARTICLES

3 thoughts on “Grossi to clerks: Don’t ask me, get a lawyer

  1. “The issue is that Grossi had previously advised municipal clerks that Republican candidates needed five votes and Democrats just one – the same as needed for nominating petitions. But in April, Superior Court Judge Ernest Caposela ruled that Grossi didn’t understand state election law and ordered Morris County to follow statutory guidelines.”
    Does she really expect to get re-elected? If she wants my vote, she had better come up with a reasonable explanation.

  2. In a prior article on NJ Globe, the author asserted that NJ law requires that the minimum write-in votes needed to be on county committee is equal to the number of signatures required to be on the ballot. The only statute I have been able to find is NJSA 19:14-2.1 that states:

    The name of a person for whom votes are cast by irregular ballot or by write-in vote in a primary election to nominate candidates for elective office shall not be included on the ballot at the general election unless he received a number of irregular ballots or write-in votes for that office at the primary election at least equal to the number of signatures required on a petition to place upon the primary election ballot the name of a [political] candidate for that office, pursuant to R.S. 19:23-8.

    Summarizing the legal language here, a person who receives write-in votes in a primary election won’t appear on the general election ballot unless he receives a minimum number of votes equal to the number of petition signatures required to have been on the primary ballot. County committee seats never appear on the general election ballot, therefore I think it’s impossible to conclude that NJSA 19:14-2.1 applies to those elections. If it did, the statute would be worded more inclusively. The lack of any reference to these party seats leads me to believe that only one write-in vote is needed for someone to get in county committee.

  3. From The Daily Record, 2/4/17:
    “”And my experience? I may not have been sitting in this job for that long but my experience over my years, with my resume, I’m overqualified to run this office,” Grossi said.”
    (Source: https://www.dailyrecord.com/story/news/politics/2017/01/04/morris-county-clerk-ann-grossi-rebuffed-large-raise-requests/96157284/)

    “Overqualified” but apparently has difficulty following state election law? Thank you David Wildstein for the public service you provide by holding those we elect accountable. Ann seems very nice, but her office should always follow state election law in my view.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *