N.J. mayor calls on Mercer County to address election issues before state midterms

Robbinsville Township. (Mercer County)

Robbinsville Township. (Mercer County)

The Mayor of Robbinsville is frustrated more than most in Mercer County for what happened on Election Day.

In addition to the countywide failure of ballot scanners, Mayor Dave Fried was informed Wednesday evening that ballots for one of the voting districts in his town went missing.

“Our residents were obviously rightfully concerned that the District 5 results were not posting,” he said.

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A statement was posted to the township’s website after the mayor was informed.

“We felt we had an obligation to let people know that we had a district worth of ballots that went missing,” Fried said, adding that each district has about 800 voters.

Fried said he saw an online report Thursday that the ballots have been located. In an email, Mercer County Clerk Paula Sollami-Covello said that the bags with the ballots are under the jurisdiction of the Mercer County Board of Elections.

“My understanding is that all of them have been located at the Board of Elections office,” she said in an email.

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County election officials have not returned emails seeking confirmation that the missing ballots have been recovered.

This is the second year in a row Robbinsville experienced challenges with ballots, according to Fried.

“We had a size issue with the ballots; so this started as the polls opened that the ballots couldn’t be scanned,” Fried said, adding residents were frustrated. Some, he said, left without voting. Officials were able to come up with an alternative to fill out paper ballots.

“This is extremely frustrating for us as a municipality,” said Fried. “We really need to make sure that we have a secure process for the public,” citing that the county spent $2.8 million in March to extend its contract with Dominion Voting Systems in March for equipment and support services

Clerk Sollami-Covello contacted the county Prosecutor’s office on Wednesday to investigate why ballot scanners failed on Election Day.

“We are reviewing her concerns to determine what further action should be taken,” said Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office spokesperson Casey DeBlasio.

Dominion Voting System is blaming the machine failures on a “printing issue.”

“The Dominion tabulators functioned exactly as they should in accordance with certification,” according to a statement from a Dominion spokesperson. “We are actively working with Royal Printing and Mercer County election officials on this issue.”

Royal Printing Service, the company that printed the ballots, told New Jersey 101.5 “there was nothing wrong with the printing.”

Fried said he doesn’t care who is to blame, he wants the issue resolved before next year’s state midterm elections.

“This is now the second year in a row that our machines did not work well or at all,” he said. “We need to make sure that we don’t go for the trifecta.”

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