Jose Sandoval, one of four defeated candidates in Tuesday’s mayoral race, said he plans to legally challenge the election’s results because the paperless machines on which voters cast their ballots cannot verify votes. Sandoval went to a county warehouse Friday morning accompanied by defeated candidate Pablo Plaza and Passaic County elections officials to retrieve a printout from each of the machines used in the election. Mayor Alex D. Blanco crushed Sandoval, his closest contender in the election, by a margin of 4,377 to 1,880. Plaza ended up with just hundreds of votes. The printouts collected by county officials on Friday seemed to confirm those election results, Sandoval said. ”This does not prove those machines had not been tampered with,” Sandoval said about the voting printouts.
Articles about voting issues in New Jersey.
New Jersey: Losing challenger in Passaic mayoral race says machines rigged, wants recount | NorthJersey.com
A day after Mayor Alex D. Blanco and his ticket of four City Council incumbents cruised to victory, challenger Jose Sandoval contends the electronic voting machines were rigged against him and he’s demanding a recount. Sandoval said he had 500 get-out-the-vote volunteers Tuesday and had expected to get at least 3,000 votes. But he polled just 1,880 and was crushed by Blanco, who received 4,377 votes and carried all 30 polling districts. “I had 3,000 votes in the bank,” Sandoval said Wednesday. “They stole this election from me. The machines must have been tampered with.” Sandoval wants to hire his own expert to check the electronic Sequoia brand voting machines used on Tuesday. And he plans to go to Superior Court this week to ask for a recount.
Calling the proposal “hasty, counterproductive and less reliable,” Gov. Chris Christie today vetoed a bill that would have let residents vote at their polling place starting 15 days before Election Day. The move was instantly criticized by Democrats who accused the Republican governor of trying to stifle the vote. Under the bill (S2364), voters could have cast ballots in person at their polling places until the Sunday before the primary or general election. Voters can currently cast a “mail-in-ballot” by mailing or hand-delivering a competed ballot to their county clerk starting 45 days before the election, Christie said in his two-page veto message.
Joanne Nyikita is all for early voting, just not the way it is set up in a bill sitting on the governor’s desk. Nyikita is superintendent of elections in Burlington County, and in the weeks before a presidential election, she says, she and her staff work 15-hour days, seven days a week, registering voters and making sure things run smoothly. By in effect adding two weeks before the election during which voters can cast their ballots, she said, the state would vastly increase the work of already overstretched county election boards. Nyikita said that creating an electronic database for early-voting records would greatly lighten the load, but that there was no money for it. “It could not be done every day for two weeks. It simply could not be done,” said Nyikita, executive vice president of the New Jersey Association of Election Officials.
Legislation ensuring every resident in the state the right to vote 15 days before certain elections awaits Governor Christie’s signature, and municipal officials in northwest Bergen County are holding their collective breath. “This is going to cause pure havoc,” said Waldwick Borough Clerk Paula Jaegge, who was initially concerned that every municipality would be required to provide polling locations. “We would have to reschedule meetings and juggle a lot of things around to make this work for that long a time period.” An amendment to the bill, which cleared its last legislative hurdle last week, instead would require seven polling locations in Bergen, a figure based on its population. The county Board of Elections would be responsible for determining where the polling locations would be. Even so, many are questioning the need for it at all. “We already have it,” said state Sen. Gerald Cardinale, R-Cresskill, who represents District 39, which includes Ramsey, Mahwah and Oakland. “We have early voting through vote by mail. This just creates a whole series of expenses, more government layers.”
A bill to allow residents to cast votes at polling places starting 15 days before Election Day is one step closer to reaching the governor’s desk. The Senate today voted 24-16 to pass the early voting bill (S2364), which would let voters cast their ballots early until the Sunday before the election. State Sen. Nia Gill (D-Essex) said she wants to encourage residents’ participation in democracy. “Early voting would ensure that even in an emergency, just as a natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy, or in case of unforeseen personal scheduling conflicts, residents will still be able to get to the polls and exercise their most fundamental right to vote.”
The state’s voting machines are so vulnerable to tampering and error that it’s impossible to tell whether ballots are counted properly, a coalition of civil rights groups told an appellate panel Tuesday in a long-running case that has drawn national attention from computer security experts and voting officials. The three judges must decide whether to order the state to replace tens of thousands of electronic voting machines with newer technology designed to be more secure. The problem, advocates say, isn’t just theoretical: Voting machine irregularities caused a Superior Court judge to throw out a South Jersey election in 2011. Critics say it’s impossible to determine whether that was an isolated incident.
Voting rights lawyers said today some of New Jersey’s digital voting machines must be replaced because they are vulnerable to hackers who could change the outcome of elections. ”We are in a state that values and prizes the right to vote,” Penny Venetis, a law professor at Rutgers University-Newark, told a three-judge appeals court panel in Trenton. “We believe that this court should review the record anew and look at the science very carefully.” Continuing a fight that has lasted nearly a decade, Venetis wants the appeals court to overrule a lower court judge who allowed counties across New Jersey to continue using the computerized voting systems. Venetis said the systems leave no paper trail, complicating recounts in any instance where fraud or mistakes happen. She said it would not be difficult for a computer hacker to gain access to a machine and change its software to register votes for one candidate over another. “You can press what you think is candidate A’s button and it registers a vote for candidate B,” she said. But the state argued that there is no perfect system, paperless machines do not present “a severe restriction on the right to vote” and replacing the equipment will simply cost too much.
New Jersey: Rutgers–Newark Law Professor to Argue Case Against Flawed Electronic Voting Machines | Rutgers Today
On Tuesday March 5, 2013, Professor Penny Venetis of the Rutgers School of Law–Newark Constitutional Litigation Clinic will argue before the New Jersey Appellate Division and ask the court to decertify New Jersey’s insecure computerized voting machines. The case, Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, Stephanie Harris, Coalition for Peace Action, etc. vs. Gov. Chris Christie, will be heard in Trenton beginning at 11:30 am. The clinic filed a lawsuit in 2004 charging that the voting machines violated the constitutionally guaranteed right to vote, as well as voting rights statutes. New Jersey passed “gold standard” legislation in 2005 and 2008 to require computerized voting machines to produce a voter-verified paper ballot. However, the State has yet to implement these statutes, leaving more than 5.5 million voters unprotected each Election Day. New Jersey is one of only six states that use computerized voting machines which cannot be audited.
When Superstorm Sandy wiped out a good chunk of the New Jersey shore just prior to the presidential elections last November, Gov. Chris Christie’s administration issued a directive allowing displaced citizens and first responders to vote electronically. Casting an email or fax vote may seem easy enough, but for some citizens and county election offices, the process wasn’t a walk in the park. Technology wasn’t a problem — procedures for voting electronically were already established so that military members and other overseas personnel could receive their ballots and vote by email. But preparing to receive votes from the general populace took around-the-clock efforts from county election staff already battered by the effects of Sandy. While the top of the ballots that contained federal election choices was already completed because of overseas voters, New Jersey counties had to extend those ballots to include the local races for each voter, which took time. But once that was done, sending out ballots and then qualifying people to vote electronically was a big challenge.