MIDDLESEX COUNTY, NJ - Middlesex County Republican Chairperson Lucille Panos has filed a complaint and a request for Immediate action against the County's Board of Elections. In a letter to New Jersey's Secretary of State Tahesha Way, Panos expresses her concerns about the delay in processing mail-in ballots due to lack of staffing caused by the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. The reduction in staffing has caused an imbalance in the number of Republicans and Democrats counting/processing the ballots.
In her letter, Panos says, "The Middlesex County Board of Elections has two locations in which ballots were and are continuing to be processed. The locations being Middlesex County College in Edison and the Board of Elections office, in East Brunswick. On Election Day, the Board of Election employees were assigned so that there were 9 Democrats and 1 Republican at Middlesex County College and 3 Democrats (2 being seasonal, not full time Board of Election employees) and 7 Republicans at the Board of Elections. There is no valid reason for such political party disparity in assigning Board of Election employees."
Her complaint regarding Republicans being under-represented was first directed to Thomas Lynch, Administrator of Middlesex County Board of Elections who replied to Panos noting his concern about the transmission of the COVID-19 virus among any staff members. Nonetheless, Panos still expressed concern regarding the number of Republicans represented as vote-counters in Middlesex County and requested that the Board of Elections show parity in distribution along party lines immediately.
In an interview with TAPinto East Brunswick, Panos expressed concern about two ways that the voter count impacts specific towns in Middlesex County. "Five votes can matter in small towns like Milltown or Dunellen where that could mean a change of candidate in a primary or a result in an election." Panos also discussed the impact of changing political dynamics in towns like Piscataway which is seeing an alternative line within the Democratic party.
Lynch responded to Panos's letter by stating the following: "The party imbalance will be addressed post-election as we look to change our office set-up well in advance of the November General Election with a plan that will be reviewed with the Commissioners.
To move employees at this juncture would require a quarantine period which would remove employees from working on ballots to finalize the primary election to working remotely from home which would not be practical.
Also, moving employees at this time would create personnel issues with employees concerned about contact with employees from other groups in both offices."
Panos said today that she had received a final decision regarding the unequal staffing, noting that the current set-up would remain in place until the final results for the primary are posted on or before July 31, following an extension by Attorney General Agrawal. Lynch indicated in his response to Panos that there would be a change of staff in August in preparation for the election in November.
In an e-mail to TAPinto East Brunswick, Middlesex County Republican spokesperson Zachary Myshkoff said, "The complaint was not addressed. The processing of ballots is still ongoing with a partisan bias for the primary election."
Current results for all primary elections in Middlesex County can be found by clicking here.