Last week a long-simmering battle between Passaic County’s superintendent of elections, Sherine El-Abd — a Republican appointed by the state — and the locally elected all-Democratic freeholder board was renewed when El-Abd decided to cut ties with Election Graphics, a private contractor that had been hired in 2009 to maintain the county’s 650 electronic voting machines. El-Abd has characterized the decision not to renew Election Graphics’ contract as a cost-cutting strategy that will save the county about $280,000 annually. El-Abd said the termination of the contract would also help limit some of the financial damage done when her predecessor, Laura Freytes, tried to fire four county union workers responsible for the machines at about the same time the county elected to enter into contract with Election Graphics. Those workers challenged the firings as union-busting, and after a protracted legal battle, they were ordered reinstated last August. Any scenario where county taxpayers might see a $280,000 savings would seem an obvious win-win, but some on the freeholder board aren’t so sure.
Freeholder John Bartlett, who has been critical of the elections chief in the past — particularly over suggestions she made after November’s election about possible voter fraud — was especially bothered at El-Abd’s recent hiring of Gary Colletti, the former Republican mayor of Woodland Park. El-Abd said Colletti wasn’t hired as a programmer, but will coordinate elections with all 16 municipal clerks in the county.
“I’m concerned that she’s bringing all the responsibilities for programming the machines in-house,” Bartlett said. “And what about the public perception of the office? Her office is supposed to be non-partisan, and I would be concerned about the hiring of people who seem to be particularly partisan.”
Full Article: Voting machines shouldn’t be political – NorthJersey.com.