Rice Concerned about Opportunists ‘Swooping in’ on Atlantic City Referendum Election

Senator Ronald Rice says that he will not vote on a NJ state budget that doesn't include $140 million in cost savings gained through a marijuana decriminalization and expungement law that eliminates unjust judicial and correctional practices targeting poor, minority and urban residents.

Senator Ronald L. Rice (D-28) today issued the following statement regarding the need for impounding early referendum ballots in Atlantic City and a campaign finance investigation by the Attorney General:

I have called on Governor Murphy to have the State Attorney General and the Election Commissioner immediately order the Atlantic County Board of Elections Office to seal and secure all of the early voters’ mail ballots and to request an investigation by the state Attorney General into the actions and involvement of the casino owners and executives trying to change the governmental structure of Atlantic City’s for their financial gain.

In light of the Governor’s executive order creating a date change for the Atlantic City Special Election (Referendum) from March 31 to May 12, 2020, the 1000 early vote-by-mail ballots already received must be impounded immediately to be counted, applied, certified and recorded accordantly on the new designated election date in May.

Further every precaution must be taken to prevent voter confusion, election chaos and legal challenges.  The Atlantic County Clerk’s office and the Atlantic County Board of Elections office must make certain that the early and automatic vote-by-mail voters who received their requested ballot do not receive another and that those who requested but did not receive their automatic vote-by-mail ballot should be allowed to receive those ballots by calling the Atlantic County Clerk’s office.

Our great State of New Jersey is currently withstanding our fraction of the suffering caused by the Covid-19 global pandemic.  Like the rest of the world, we are rising to the challenge, adapting and sacrificing much to get through this together and to prioritize our most desperate needs.  But our government and our judicial system are never afforded the luxury of dropping their vigilance when it comes to protecting our democracy and our sacred right to vote.  That is why I stand with the people of Atlantic City to safeguard their election process and protect it from being commandeered by a band of interlopers and casino owners.  This cabal blatantly seeks to uproot the city’s current system of mayor-council government to supplant it with another that would result in the selection of a municipal manager to act as the city’s executive.  My question is, “For whose benefit?”

Those familiar with Atlantic City politics have every reason to be wary.  A shore town with casinos is subject to the same thievery as a beach picnic is to aggressive sea gulls.  Opportunism abounds.  But those best equipped to govern for the people are the people who have come up through the city and would guide it into the future with hands-on, constituent-focused compassion and wisdom.  Not those swooping in for the kill for personal gains and benefits.

But my primary concern today is that the integrity of the people’s vote be preserved – that the votes of Atlantic City residents be properly handled according to law; that precise communication with voters prevents duplicate ballot confusion; and that casino owners and employees financing the Atlantic City government takeover cannot use other organizations and means to circumvent the casino laws governing and barring their political participation.

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