A new investigation is looking into a county in New Jersey, where double counting may have flipped the result of at least one local election in the 2022 midterms.
The state’s attorney general, Matthew Platkin, announced an inquiry last week, citing public reports about voting problems in Monmouth County.
“Protecting New Jerseyans’ right to vote in a free and fair election is paramount to our democracy, and ensuring the integrity of that process is essential,” Platkin said in a statement, adding that “a full investigation is warranted to encourage and preserve public trust in our elections, including recommendations for reforms to benefit the conduct of contests statewide.”
Several municipalities in Monmouth County, located on the coast of central New Jersey, experienced tabulation problems during the election, which were reportedly only discovered two months later as the Board of Elections was investigating an unrelated issue, the New Jersey Globe reported earlier this month.
However, a later report from the Globe said that county officials were notified about the voting machine issues in November.
Although several towns were affected by the issues, the contest for Ocean Township Board of Education was close enough where double voting may have flipped the results. Steve Clayton, a former board member, defeated incumbent Jeffrey Weinstein by 20 votes. However, an informal tally showed Weinstein ahead by one vote.
Platkin joined forces with Monmouth County officials on January 20 in asking a court to allow a “full recount and recheck” in the towns affected by the voting system error, according to CNN.
Clayton took office this month but said that he is aware that the result could change. “I’m a board member until I’m not a board member. My main concern is the integrity of the election and that whoever ends up taking the seat, the people have confidence in the outcome,” he told the Asbury Park Press.
The county’s voting machine vendor, Election Systems and Software, blamed “human procedural error” for what it described as an “isolated incident.” A single technician, who was sent over the summer to investigate reports of slow performance in the county’s internal network, “excluded a step” that “optimizes the system database and ensures USB flash media cannot be read twice during the results loading process,” an ES&S spokeswoman said.
Platkin’s office retained law firm Patterson, Belknap, Webb, and Tyler LLP, on behalf of the Division on Civil Rights. They will investigate whether any person or entity engaged in unlawful conduct under the New Jersey Civil Rights act.
Peter Harvey, a former New Jersey attorney general and federal prosecutor, was picked to lead the investigation and brings “immense experience in civil rights matters and overseeing complex and sensitive investigations,” the attorney general’s office said.
Monmouth County officials support any investigation by the New Jersey attorney general into the election software issue and call on the state to implement reforms in future elections.
ES&S “pledges to work with Monmouth County to ensure all necessary steps are taken to ensure election accuracy,” a spokeswoman for the company said.
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