NEWTON, NJ – The Sussex County Board of Elections has announced the retirement of Administrator Margaret McCabe as of October 1. The announcement comes in the wake of the discovery of a box of 1,666 uncounted primary election ballots late last week.
The Board of Elections has “not yet made a decision about filling the position,” according to Republican Commissioner Member Allen Langjahr.
Langjahr said he wanted people to understand the issue of the uncounted 1,666 ballots “is solely the responsibility of the Board of Elections. It’s on us. It happened on our watch.” The role of the county clerk is to certify the election data given to him by the board of elections.
He said Sussex County Clerk Jeff Parrott has been "helpful and supportive."
The Board of Election members met today to address and revise procedures, “looking at areas to improve,” in preparation for the November election. They met in the morning and again in the afternoon, recessing until Monday to allow all members to review the document’s revisions, according to Langjahr.
On Thur., Sept. 10, the “mismarked” box of ballots was found. McCabe brought the news to Parrott, and they called the New Jersey Attorney General who advised that they count immediately, Parrott and McCabe said in an interview on Sept. 10.
“We had an obligation to the county and its voters,” Langjahr said regarding the found ballots. Counting them as quickly as possible was “the ethical and appropriate action to take.” They had an self-imposed deadline of Mon., Sept. 14, to get them counted. That was the deadline for getting the ballot information to the printer for the Nov. 3 election, though no changes resulted from the additional votes.
The process revisions being discussed by the board of election members are primarily internal, responding to the Governor’s Executive Orders requiring an all-mail in ballot election, according to Langjahr.
Typically, the Sussex County Board of Elections sees approximately 30,000 “paper ballots,” according to Langjahr. This refers to overseas ballots, military ballots, mail-in ballots and provisional ballots that are all similar but with slight differences, Langjahr said.
Langjahr said they are expecting from 70,000 to 90,000 paper ballots for the Nov. 3 election as Executive Orders 179 and 144 require every registered voter must be sent a paper ballot whether requested or not.
The paper ballots will be counted both manually and electronically, Langjahr said. They are scanned electronically for the votes to be counted but also must be hand checked for write-in candidates.
Deadlines for the Nov. 3 Election:
- Register to vote – October 13
- Overseas ballots mailed – September 19
- All ballots mailed – October 5
- Election day – November 3
- Ballot “cure” deadline for rejected ballots – November 20
- Election certification – November 23
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