Continuing frustration over missing vote-by-mail ballots and a fight for messenger ballots characterized the late afternoon stretch in Belleville in a dogfight May 12th election between incumbent Ward One Councilwoman Marie Strumolo-Burke and challenger Carmine Mattia.
Mayor Mike Melham backs Mattia.
Today he and the challenger’s other allies were in and out of the clerk’s office receiving and running back messenger ballots for people who told them they never received their original vote-by-mail ballots.
People – voters – were also presumably making those same runs to submit the ballots Melham says they never received.
The mayor has already vociferously made his agitation known over what he cites as the failure of the U.S. Postal Service to fulfill the baseline expectation of this May 12th election cycle: voter receipt of ballots.
“We’ll be doing this all night long,” said Melham, who admitted that it’s playing havoc with late-stage GOTV plans.
People are calling the Mattia campaign to complain about their predicament, the mayor said, and they’re all doing the best they can to get messenger ballots delivered back to the office of the Essex County Clerk.
It’s just annoying.
For its part, the Strumolo-Burke Campaign is experiencing the same challenges, making the rundown to tomorrow’s deadline basically evenly hell on everyone.
Campaign Manager Gary Iacobacci acknowledged what Melham complained about on his end.
“Some people are not getting their ballots, and you can’t take a chance that they’ll get them tomorrow, when they have to be postmarked,” he said.
Groups of campaign runners went back and forth to the clerk’s office, presumably criss-crossing the Mattia campaign.
They can’t go door-to-door to check on those who haven’t yet voted.
“Nobody wants that,’ said Iacabacci, in a nod to the COVID-19 crisis that has people bunkered in to begin with and having to participate in the all-VBM election process. “They’re calling us; we’re not going door-to door.
“It is nightmare,” he added.