Electronic Voting Causes Issues Throughout State
ACLU asks Superior Court judge to intervene, high volume of application requests extends deadline for email, fax ballots.
The deadline for electronic voting has been extended after email and fax ballots caused headaches Tuesday throughout the state.
A high volume of requests overwhelmed county officials, including in Morris where the chairman of the Morris County Board of Elections told NJ.com it may take weeks to determine the outcome of some close local elections.
Morris County issues began to surface on Monday when it was discovered some information on the county clerk's website directing voters not able to get to the polls was either inaccurate or misleading, NJ.com reported.
The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey also plans to file an emergency petition requesting a state Superior Court judge in Essex County to intervene to force the state to permit a federal absentee balloting program for voters displaced by the storm.
The Bergen County clerk's office also saw a high volume of electronic ballot requests and an increased demand for provisional ballots, NJ.com reported.
Hudson County had not yet processed about 2,000 electronic ballot applications as of Tuesday afternoon, according to NorthJersey.com.
The deadline to submit an electronic ballot application was extended to 5 p.m. Tuesday. Once an application is processed, the voter has until Friday at 8 p.m. to submit the ballot and waiver of secrecy.
Somerset County Clerk Brett Radi said he believes the extension was confusing to some, as it didn't change the application process as much as the time his and other offices have to process the requests, according to NJ.com.
The New Jersey Department of State issued a directive on Saturday, ordering county elections officials to permit New Jersey registered voters displaced by Superstorm Sandy to vote electronically.
After Sandy displaced thousands of New Jersey residents, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno signed an order allowing voters to submit a mail-in ballot application by email or fax.
Once the request is received, Board of Elections workers have to verify that the individual is a qualified voter. Then, the registered voter receives a waiver of secrecy form along with the ballot to fill out and e-mail or fax back.
“I can’t even begin to estimate how many have come in. People are submitting the e-mail several times,” said Laura Kirkpatrick, a spokeswoman for Monmouth County.
In an age of instantaneous communication, some voters are sending email requests to election boards multiple times, Kirkpatrick said. She advised residents who submitted an email request for a mail-in ballot to be patient and avoid sending additional emails, as each has to be processed by an elections worker as a separate request.
If residents are concerned that their request for electronic voting has not been received, she advised voters to visit their polling station or a polling station nearby.
“They can step into any polling place in the state of New Jersey and vote provisionally and it will get to Monmouth,” Kirkpatrick said.
Voters casting a provisional ballot will be able to vote for presidential and state-wide elections, though not for their local municipal elections.