Middlesex County GOP Chair Files Complaint Against Board of Elections Calling for Stop to Partisan Ballot Processing

 

Dear Secretary of State Tahesha Way,

I am filing this complaint against the Middlesex County Board of Elections, along with a request for immediate action.

It is understood that due to unprecedented number of Vote by Mail and Provisional ballots, the July 7, 2020 election has forced Boards of Election to devise ways to process the enormous amount of ballots.  However, it should be expected that the Boards preserve the principle of a bi-partisan balance while doing so. That was not the case in Middlesex County on July 7, the days following and still ongoing. Thus, my complaint.

The Middlesex County Board of Elections has two locations in which ballots were and are continuing to be processed. The locations being Middlesex County College in Edison and the Board of Elections office, in East Brunswick. On election day the Board of Election employees were assigned so that there were 9 Democrats and 1 Republican at Middlesex County College and 3 Democrats (2 being seasonal, not full time Board of Election employees) and 7 Republicans at the Board of Elections. There is no valid reason for such political party disparity in assigning Board of Election employees.

In responding to my inquiry to the disparity (attached), Thomas Lynch, Administrator of Middlesex County Board of Elections indicates the assignments were based on the possibility that if an individual were to contract Covid-19, the separation of employees would reduce the spread. His explanation actually gives cause for greater concern. If one group is exposed, then the political party disparity would be even greater.

Since ballot processing is still ongoing, there is no need to wait and plan for November election. Please consider this complaint a high priority, with a request to instruct the Middlesex County Board of Election to immediately reassign Board of Election employees with equal distribution of both political party affiliation at each location. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Lucille Panos

Chair, Middlesex County Republican Organization

 

Dear Chairwoman Panos,

Thank you for the email.

While we have better balance between the parties at the Board Office, we are unable to currently adjust party affiliation further at the College.

We also now have better party balance during ballot tabulations and counting sessions.

Our goal is separating the groups was to have all staff working in-person and if an individual, within a group, were to contract Covid-19, that there would be a group that would not be exposed thereby reducing spread and improving our ability to complete the election in a timely manner.

The party imbalance will be addressed post-election as we look to change our office set-up well in advance of the November General Election with a plan that will be reviewed with the Commissioners.

To move employees at this juncture would require a quarantine period which would remove employees from working on ballots to finalize the primary election to working remotely from home which would not be practical.

Also, moving employees at this time would create personnel issues with employees concerned about contact with employees from other groups in both offices.

I understand the sentiment behind your request, I look forward to being able to plan that for August as we prepare for November.

As always, I value your input and if you wish to discuss further, please do not hesitate to call me directly.

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