The votes are in. Finally. Morris County has certified its election, putting to rest most lingering doubts about who won what in an unconventional, post-Sandy election that saw a record number of mail-in votes and, for the first time, ballots sent by email and fax. The county had until Tuesday to certify the election, under an extension given by the state. Nearly 70 percent of Morris County’s registered voters took part in the election — with nearly 6 percent casting mail-in ballots (which includes the emailed and faxed ballots, as well as any cast early at county offices). Most of the rest showed up at the polls, even though several polling stations were moved as communities and utility companies scrambled to restore power after the superstorm. “One way or another, it’s done,” said Tony DeSimone, IT administrator for the Morris County Board of Elections.
The Rutgers School of Law–Newark Constitutional Litigation Clinic suggests statewide, about 75 races could be decided by votes cast by displaced voters. It also says the unprecedented last-minute state directive to accept email and fax ballots was alarming and not supported by New Jersey law.
“Email is completely untrustworthy and insecure unless it’s backed up by a paper ballot that the voter signs and mails in and that is the ballot of record,” the clinic quotes Princeton Professor Appel saying in a press release.
Shortly ahead of the election, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno directed county clerks to accept applications for email and fax ballots through 5 p.m. on Election Day, and then the actual ballots (which would be sent back to applicants) through 8 p.m. The move was intended to help voters displaced by Sandy vote, though it included no instructions about verifying residents were actually displaced before allowing them to participate.