Election Trouble

CHESTER – I got a text Tuesday evening about “very long” lines at polling places here, so long, in fact, that some gave up and left.

As results were digested the next day, Amalia Duarte, the chair of the Morris County Democratic Committee, sent out what began as a very upbeat message highlighting the easy re-election of Mikie Sherrill and celebrating Democratic wins in competitive municipalities like Madison, the Chathams and Mountain Lakes.

But then she got around to a less cheery point – election problems.

And she identified a culprit, Ann Grossi, the Republican county clerk.

After referencing long lines in Chester, Duarte said, “It’s appalling that with so much time to prepare for an election, such basic, fundamental mistakes were made by County Clerk Ann Grossi. It’s appalling and sadly undermines the faith voters have in elections. Voting should be easy and straightforward.”

She added, “We need an investigation into these problems to find answers and ensure it never happens again.”

Grossi, who has been a target of Dems before – like when she ran for reelection in 2018 – expressed annoyance with being blamed for every problem at the polls. She also issued a statement that said the problems raised by Duarte had nothing to do with her office.

Broadly speaking, election officials across the land have been under fire in this era of “election deniers.” However, this complaint is not about kooky conspiracy theories, but the basic act of voting.

Duarte’s main complaint seemed to be about a mix-up regarding congressional districts.

The new map split Mendham Township between CD-7 and CD-11. That does seem ridiculous, given the fact the township is not very large. But gerrymandering is often illogical.

Duarte said that resulted in voters having to return to the polls “after not being able to cast a ballot because they were placed in the wrong congressional district.”

The silver lining here, one supposes, is that these voters were politically-smart enough to realize they were voting in the wrong district.

At any rate, Grossi said these woes had nothing to do with her office. She said poll books, which are now electronic, were programmed incorrectly.

Handling the books falls under the purview of the county board of elections, which is a bipartisan body composed of two Republicans and two Democrats.

Duarte also raised complaints about the length of strips of paper that are inserted into voting machines, plus an overriding fact that there were not enough machines in polling places, which caused long lines.
Grossi pointed out that the strips of paper were purchased from Elections Systems & Software, or ES&S, the manufacturer of the machines.

Moreover, she noted that the machines themselves were recommended by the elections board and purchased by the county commissioners, not the clerk’s office.

That purchase earlier this year actually caused some controversy as the all-Republican board was split. In the end, the commissioners went with the recommendation of the election board and their own bipartisan panel.

But as we are now seeing, a bipartisan decision can cause a partisan fight.

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One response to “Election Trouble”

  1. Every district in Denville had a machine break down.
    3-2 and 3-3 which has always had two machines per district, had one per district and the machine for 3-3 quit, so voters were directed to use the machine for 3-2. This slowed things considerably.

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