TOMS RIVER – The Ocean County Board of Election met earlier this week for their post-election meeting. At the meeting, the board’s commissioners voted to reject some questionable ballots, in addition to performing other routine business.
The first item the board took action on was rejecting provisional ballots from people that voted in November’s general election, but weren’t actually registered to vote. According to the Board of Elections, 1086 provisional ballots were cast within Ocean County by people who were not actually registered to vote.
“I don’t think we have any discretion in regard to those ballots,” said Election Board chairman George Gilmore, who is also the leader of the county Republican organization. “Those ballots are not to be counted.”
In another instance, a bag containing 151 provisional ballots was not fully sealed, despite board staff indicating that an attempt was made to seal the bag.
Staff members of the Board of Elections indicated that the unsealed bag in question contained provisional ballots from towns including Berkeley, Brick, Lakehurst, Lakewood, Manchester and Seaside Heights.
“On those where there’s been an attempt to seal the bag but they weren’t successful we’ve always allowed the ballots to be counted unless there was an indication that somebody tampered with them,” said Gilmore.
Board members indicated that some of the provisional ballots in question still will not count despite the approval of the commissioners, as some were cast by people not registered to vote, among other disqualifying categories. The ballots not otherwise disqualified will be counted.
Rabbi Schenkolewski: “What’s Going On In Lakewood?”
The third item that saw action taken was a bag of 9 provisional ballots found in bag that was not sealed originating from Lakewood. The board voted not to count them.
“We should send a strong letter to the board workers that because of them we couldn’t count them,” said the election board’s Rabbi Yisroel Schenkolewski, a Lakewood political and religious leader affiliated with the influential Lakewood Vaad.
The commissioners subsequently also voted to reject 50 ballots from Lakehurst and Lakewood that were found in a red supply bag, and not sealed.
“What’s going on in Lakewood?” the rabbi quipped, after hearing that ballots from his municipality were again rejected due to failure to follow procedure by board workers.
“Make sure the board workers know that because of their failure to put it in the correct bag that ballots were not counted,” added Chairman Gilmore.
Also rejected by the board were 12 provisional ballots cast by voters who sent in mail-in ballots, but believed they were not received by county election officials on Election Day. Since the ballots were actually received, the board unanimously rejected the 12 ballots.
The board approved the provisional ballots cast by 496 voters who received mail-in ballots, but did not submit them via the mail in time Election Day, had their provisional votes counted after the board voted to approve them. “Those ballots can be reviewed and counted unless there is another issue with them,” Gilmore added.
The commissioners also had to take action on 296 ballots that were cast by voters in polling precincts other than where they were registered to vote.
The votes were approved to be counted with the proviso that votes cast in polling precincts not within the voter’s ward (for towns that have wards) are not to be counted, such as in Toms River, where there was race for council only in Ward 2 this year. Another issue presented was the fact that the municipalities of Stafford and Point Pleasant have split congressional districts, which is being handled the same as issues regarding wards. Board staff said they went through each ballot to determine whether or not it would be able to be counted for all races.
In this year’s general election, 99 Ocean County voters voted in the wrong town, according to the board of elections. Chairman Gilmore said that past precedent has seen the board count their votes for U.S. president, congressional and county races, but not races at the local level.
Woman Votes Twice In Brick
Over in Brick, the commissioners voted to reject a provisional ballot cast by a woman only identified as voter #105637816, who is alleged to have voted in one precinct at a voting machine, and cast a second provisional ballot at another district’s polling location. As of Tuesday’s meeting, board staff was not aware which ballot was cast first.
“I’d like a greater investigation for our next meeting into what actually happened there,” Commissioner Wyatt Earp said of the Brick incident. Mr. Earp is also the chairman of the county Democratic Party.
“Assuming that we find that it’s an attempt to avoid the requirement that you only get one vote then we’ll send it over to the prosecutor’s office,” added Mr. Gilmore.
Also rejected at this week’s meeting were 18 provisional ballots due them containing incomplete affirmation statements on the ballots, something that gives the board no discretion according to Gilmore.
Several provisional ballots cast by those who wrote they “didn’t trust” the county’s electronic voting machines were also rejected by the commissioners. After dealing with issues regarding provisional ballots, the board moved on to mail-ins. The commissioners conducted a review of suspect ballots and either voted to approve or reject each ballot in question.
Video of the meeting was filmed by Lakewood’s self-described “First Amendment Activist,” who films public meetings in order to bring about greater governmental transparency, and a copy of the full video is available above.