Hurley: New Election Should Be Ordered For Freeholder, Dist. 3
A very regrettable error has occurred in the race for Atlantic County Freeholder, District 3.
There are at least 554 disenfranchised voters.
335 voters who should have been able to vote, were denied because this race was left off of their ballot altogether.
219 voters had the District race on their ballot who shouldn’t have. They were able to vote in a race that they should not have been allowed to participate in.
Andrew Parker is the Republican candidate and Thelma Witherspoon is the Democrat candidate.
Presently, Witherspoon leads by very small margin.
There are approximately 16,000 Atlantic County-wide ballots remaining to be counted.
An unknown number are from District 3.
The current District 3 vote count is:
Witherspoon = 12,722 (59.4 %)
Parker = 12,542 (49.6 %)
A difference of just 180 votes.
There is just too much at stake. This seat represents 1/9 of the Atlantic County legislative branch and it’s on the line.
I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that the only fair thing to do is to order a new election for Atlantic County Freeholder, District 3 to be held.
This current election process is spoiled, through no fault of the candidates.
Even if one of the candidates ultimately wins by more than 554 votes, there should still be a new election held.
The margin of victory wouldn’t remedy the various deficiencies and inequities caused by the election ballot composition mishap.
It isn’t just the specific number (554) of voters that were disenfranchised. This affected other voters indirectly. And, by indirectly, I don’t mean insignificant.
Hundreds of voters were denied seeing this race on their ballot. They may have encouraged others that they know to vote, etc., along with other legitimate scenarios.
New Jersey Superior Court Assignment Judge Julio Mendez typically takes the politically charged cases in Atlantic County.
Judge Mendez is an honorable man and always works hard to do the right thing.
The right thing here is a do over.
Which is really a shame, because both of these candidates worked very hard during the current election cycle.
To hypothetically have to do it all over again, is very tough. Financially, and from a psychological standpoint.
I just don’t know of any other solution. To allow one of the candidates to emerge victorious from a tainted election would result in legitimacy issues.
Complicating this further is New Jersey state law, which appears to say that a ballot printing mistake doesn’t necessarily call for a new election.
One thing is for sure, this is a hot mess and a disservice to the voters and the two candidates.
Oh, by the way, the man ultimately responsible for the ballot error is Atlantic County Clerk Ed McGettigan.
McGettigan already has a Republican challenger, Joe Giralo.
Earlier this week, Atlantic County Republican Party Chairman Keith Davis formally called for McGettigan to resign for incompetence.
Stay tuned. At this time, is no way to know how this will end.