A new election for county Democratic Committee in Fairfield Township in Cumberland County will be held on Sept. 27, Superior Court Judge David Krell ordered Thursday. Further, Krell asked the state Attorney General’s office to turn the case over to their criminal justice division to consider pursuing a full investigation.
“I have my suspicions that something that happened here was improper,” Krell said during the second hearing of a case that involves the reliability of the Sequoia AVC Advantage voting machine. Krell does not, “and may never” know, what exactly took place regarding preparations of the ballot definitions used on Primary Election day here back in June.
The election pitted Cynthia and Ernest Zirkle against Vivian and Mark Henry. At that time, the Zirkles questioned the final tally: 10 for Cynthia and 9 for Ernest compared to 34 for Vivian and 33 for Mark.
The Zirkles expected the exact opposite and approached local voters, about 30 of whom later signed affidavits affirming they voted for the Zirkles. The two wanted another election held without the voting machine, which would be in violation of state laws.
Cumberland County has 120 Sequoia AVC Advantage machines and recently had replacement computer chips installed. The state has thousands of such machines and the upgrades, billed at $700,000, follow a lawsuit filed in 2004.
Superior Court Judge Linda Feinberg published an opinion in 2010 that stated the machines were safe but they should be re-evaluated by a panel of computer experts.
In June, Cumberland County Board of Elections Administrator Lizbeth Hernandez admitted a “human error” when programming the ballot for the Fairfield election.
A review of the ballot prior to the election didn’t catch that the names on the ballot had been swapped, meaning when a person voted for one of the Zirkles, the vote was actually counted toward the tally for the Henrys.