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Democratic candidate for Morris County Clerk Shala Gagliardi

Morris Dems demand audit of county clerk election practices

Cabana says freeholders don’t have authority to review election issues

By David Wildstein, May 09 2018 4:09 pm

Morris County Democrats want the Board of Freeholders to conduct an independent audit of election practices by county clerk Ann Grossi after a Superior Court Judge ruled that she circulated an illegal memorandum and failed to understand state election laws.

A group of thirty residents attended the freeholder meeting and several addressed the board with a request to exercise their oversight powers and conduct an audit of Grossi’s office.

Freeholder Director Doug Cabana told the group that the board does not have oversight authority over elections, according to a county spokesman, Larry Ragonese.

“The freeholders finance constitutional offices like the county clerk and sheriff, but election practices are overseen by the Secretary of State and the Division of Elections,” Ragonese said.

Grossi’s Democratic opponent, attorney Shala Gagliardi, is pushing back on Cabana’s position.

“This year, Morris County is home to two congressional races with national implications, 4 competitive races for county offices and at least 40 important local races. Candidates and voters on both sides of the aisle deserve to know that our elections are conducted fairly and freely,” said Gagliardi, “It’s unfortunate that the Freeholders do not seem to believe that the integrity of our elections is important to the welfare of Morris County.”

Gagliardi accused the freeholders of failing to fulfill their responsibilities.

“It may be natural for the all-Republican Board of Freeholders to want to protect one of their own, but the integrity of our elections is too important to be the subject of partisan wrangling,” said Rupande Mehta, a Democratic candidate for freeholder.

The issue involved a challenge to county committee petitions in Rockaway Township, where five candidates were challenged because they did not have enough signatures.  Judge Ernest Caposela ruled allowed the candidates to remain on the ballot because they had relied on “illegal” information supplied by Grossi, but ordered that future elections be run in accordance with state statutes.

“An independent judge has shown that there is a problem within the Morris County Clerk’s office and Morris County citizens have expressed their concern directly with the Board of Freeholders,” said Butler Democratic Municipal Chair Judy Woop. “Now it is time for the Freeholders to do the responsible thing and exercise their authority to investigate the election practices within the County Clerk’s office.”

Gagliardi, who is seeking to become the first Democrat to win a Morris County Clerk election since before the Civil War, appears to be seizing on Caposela’s ruling as an election issue.

“We can’t just turn a blind eye to the County Clerk’s failure to understand election law. This problem affects citizens, candidates, and elected officials from both parties,” Gagliardi said. “We can all agree that our elections need to be free, fair, and conducted in full accordance with the letter of the law. Morris County leaders take responsibility for the County Clerk’s oversight so that we can begin working together to ensure the integrity of our elections.”

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4 thoughts on “Morris Dems demand audit of county clerk election practices

  1. The folly of election season. A really minor issue becomes blown a thousand times out of proportion because of a fractured and volatile situation in one town that has given the Democrat clerk candidate her one issue. Why is it a minor issue? First of all, no one can claim any actual harm from the simplified signature requirements that were agreed to in 1994, which for the record was set by two clerks prior to Grossi. Gagliardi said, “This problem affects citizens, candidates, and elected officials from both parties.” Exactly how does this A) constitute a problem for anyone and B) how did this actually affect anyone? The 1994 agreement simplified and relaxed what the state statute does, yet if you look at the fabulous clerk’s office website you will see that tons of Democrat and Republican County Committee seats are vacant and failed to get any petitions this year. So we’re talking about an office that many people don’t even want to seek. So aside from the principal of Grossi following a 24 year old tradition (which perhaps she was led to believe by others was justifiable) instead of state law, how was anyone harmed by this? The individuals challenged by La Ioconna remain on the ballot, so even in the discovery of this no one was harmed.

    Lastly, Gagliardi is seeking an audit of the clerk’s office over one minor issue. She clearly has no other issues she can raise about Grossi, or else by now we would have heard of it. So in pursuit of more dirt on her opponent, she wants taxpayers to pay for an audit in the hopes that they can find what she has been unable to. Ah, the folly of election season.

  2. Why is it that Republican apologists seldom identify themselves? “Brian O?
    When I was working as a reporter for a daily newspaper, my City Editor told me that if there was one error in the article or one misstatement of fact the entire article was suspect. The illegal advice handed out by Clerk Grossi is not “minor” in that it calls into question not just the number of signatures required for political committee seats, but also everything else about the process. If 20 of New Jersey’s 21 counties can get it right, what’s going on in Morris that Republican clerks have perpetuated this error for 24 years.

  3. this is all non sense no one even cares what the clerk does. What should be being talked about is Jay Webber’s mistreatment of woman by his voting record. He voted against equal pay for women!

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