A tabulation system error double-counted November election votes in six Monmouth County, New Jersey districts in four towns, which could affect a school board contest in Ocean Township.
Election Systems and Software informed Gothamist of the double counting. David Wildstein’s New Jersey Globe political news blog, a lifelong Republican politician and alleged mastermind of Gov. Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal, first revealed the issue.
ES&S, the company, called the occurrence an isolated incidence “due to a human procedural error.” It identified the issue during a Monmouth County-requested election database check. The problem also affected only one race.
“We’re grateful for the review that discovered this human error,” spokesperson Katina Granger commented.
ES&S didn’t explain the county’s request. Monmouth County Board of Elections spokesperson Karla Bardinas hasn’t answered a phone since Wednesday. However, the Globe reported that former Belmar Councilman James Bean requested public documents in November after spotting election results discrepancies.
Bean said he contacted officials for weeks but didn’t hear from the county’s superintendent of elections until December.
On Nov. 28, board Chief Clerk Tracee Johnson wrote to state officials claiming a post-election audit revealed only stray scratches on some ballots and a paper jam that prevented one ballot from sliding into a voting machine sleeve.
The issue might overturn Steve Clayton’s 20-vote Ocean Township win over Jeffrey Weinstein. The Globe stated races in Belmar, Fair Haven, and Tinton Falls, where vote tabulations were also disrupted, were not close enough to reverse.
“Horrible.” It’s awful for me and Jeff Weinstein. “We’re both in the same position,” Clayton told News 12.
CNN reported Wednesday that Monmouth County’s Board of Elections would request a school board race recount from a court.
The attorney general’s office spokesperson, Sharon Lauchaire, declined to comment on when the office first became aware of the situation, what advice it has given Monmouth, whether it has notified other counties using ES&S’ system, and whether it’s satisfied the issue didn’t extend beyond the districts already identified.
State Sen. Vin Gopal asked the New Jersey attorney general and U.S. attorney to examine the voting tabulation issue on Wednesday.
“Reversing a contest over two months after the election is utterly inappropriate and presents an opening for doubts about the integrity of elections in Monmouth County and the state,” Gopal said.
He said county and state authorities owe voters “complete openness on how these errors occurred and what efforts are being taken to ensure they never repeat.” Ocean Township is in Gopal’s 11th Legislative District.
ES&S reported a USB disc was “loaded twice into the results reporting module.” The company’s software normally prevents votes from being counted twice, but a technician missed a step when reinstalling software in July to fix poor performance, so it didn’t work.