On Friday, November 20th, more than two weeks after election day, I was pleased and proud to be certified by the Union County Board of Election (BOE) as one of the winners of the Berkeley Heights Town Council race, along with my running mate, Jeanne Kingsley.
Imagine my surprise, less than one day later --, when I woke up to an email from Scott Salmon Esq, representing Susan Poage’s recount/recheck petition of the Union County Superior Court and asking me which attorney would be representing me in a recount of the local Town Council election. After a quick online check of Mr. Salmon, I came to find he is an election law lawyer and on the “steering committee for Tom Malinowski for Congress”. I was taken back and thought… here is small town me...against a giant...I need representation and fast……further, is this the way things happen with local politics? Why serve me papers through email from an out-of-town attorney and not just reach out to me directly? Jeanne and I ran a positive and professional campaign. Why was there a concession published by TAPInto, yet neither Susan Poage or Bret Sayre ever contacted us to concede and congratulate us on our win?
Each campaign had ample opportunity to have full and in-person access to observe ballot processing for over 24 days, receive reports daily of ballots received and votes tallied, and ask questions of the Board of Elections Officers. In fact, Jeanne’s and my campaign had been closely monitoring the ballot submission, tracking, and tallying process for many weeks. The OPRA process allowed anyone the opportunity to receive lists of people whose ballot was received in Union County. Beginning in late October, we watched the process very closely. We had representatives in person, most days, as allowed, at the Union County facility where the ballots were being processed.
If Susan's campaign had done that, her mind would be at ease having witnessed the meticulous job that the Union County BOE completed in this election. If they followed the reporting, and observed the data trends they would have seen that Jeanne and I were garnering 100% more votes day by day, aligned to the trends in ballots received. The data also showed that early ballot returns were much more likely to be their supporters. Now at the 11th hour, on the final day to request a recount, Susan Poage hires a lawyer to contact me and do her bidding.
So is Susan Poage “entitled” to ask for a recount?…of course she is. Is Susan Poage “entitled” to hire an attorney connected to the Malinowski campaign to serve me?…of course she is. Is Susan Poage “entitled” to peace of mind?…of course she is.
The question is why? Her campaign had an opportunity to do the work initially, so she could have the confidence we had in the process. I question why she would concede via TAPinto on November 16th and then turn around to request a recount a few days later. Why did she ask for a recount, then decry publicly (in TAPInto and at last night’s Town Meeting) that she stands by her concession?
I question Susan’s motives and I question her judgement.
Thank you, Susan Poage for prolonging this very tense election season for our residents and for impacting so many of us right before the holidays. It didn’t have to be this way.
So why do I have a problem with this recount process?... Well, I think the facts speak for themselves.