Edison, NJ – Questions are being raised as to whether Edison Board of Education Candidate Sparshil Patel meets the legal residency requirements for the position. In a letter to the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, Attorney Frank Fusco requested a formal investigation into whether Mr. Patel violated N.J.S.A 18A: 12-1 by certifying that he met all the legal requirements for the Board of Education position, which includes a one year residency requirement.
Under New Jersey regulations, Mr. Patel, one of ten candidates vying for three positions in the 2019 Board of Education race, was required to be a resident of Edison as of November 2018, according to Mr. Fusco. In a certification filed with the Middlesex County Board of Elections, Mr. Patel attested that he was “qualified to be a member of the Edison Board of Education.”
“Transparency is very important to the process,” Mr. Fusco told TAPinto Edison. “Voters should know when a candidate moved into town, and if the candidate was being truthful in legal documents filed with the government,” he said.
Mr. Patel is running with Shivi Prasad Madhukar and Anthony DeAmorin as part of the BOE ACT team (Accountability, Communication, and Transparency).
According to documents produced by Mr. Fusco, Mr. Patel purchased his current home in Edison on March 22, 2019. Mr. Fusco stated that public documents indicate Mr. Patel lived in Somerset County until that time. He did not register to vote in Edison until April 26, 2019, according to Mr. Fusco.
In a letter to Mr. Fusco, dated October 17, 2019, Mr. Patel’s attorney Eric Harrison stated that Mr. Patel moved to Edison in September 2018. “Mr. Patel resided in Edison from September 1, 2018 through the purchase of his home in 2019,” said Mr. Harrison. “On Election Day, [Mr. Patel] will have resided within the municipality for more than one year as required by law,” said Mr. Harrison in the letter to Mr. Fusco.
But a voter profile record from Middlesex County suggests that Mr. Patel’s residence address remained at 2 Barge Lane in Franklin Township, Somerset County, until a change date of April 10, 2019. The same record also suggests that Mr. Patel may have voted in Franklin Township, Somerset County, in the November 2018 general election.
“It is self explanatory as to when he moved into this County,” said Middlesex County Deputy Chief Clerk Fran Casey in reference to Mr. Patel’s voter profile record.
Under New Jersey law, individuals who move to a different county must register in their new county of residence prior to voting, unless the voter registration date has passed. In 2018, the voter registration deadline was October 16, 2018, 46 days after Mr. Patel’s attorney stated that he moved to Middlesex County.
“If he moved into Middlesex County before the voter registration deadline, he needed to re-register and vote in Middlesex County. Until he did that, the law would require poll workers in his new precinct to turn him away as if he were not a registered voter. The law protects your right to vote after moving by allowing you to go back to your old polling place and vote there, but only if you moved after the voter registration deadline – that is, within 20 days before Election Day,” said John Bartlett, a noted election lawyer from Murphy Orlando LLC.
It remains unclear whether the Middlesex County prosecutor’s office is investigating the matter.
According to Mr. Fusco, filing a false certification may constitute a fourth degree crime under N.J.S.A 19:4-4.7, which states, “any person who shall make false oath or affirmation to any statement under this act, or who shall make any false statements therein, shall be guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.”
“To the extent Mr. Patel moved to Edison in March 2019, the certification he filed appears to be false. To the extent he voted in Somerset after moving to Edison in September 2018, he may have violated election law. In either case, the residents of Edison are owed the truth and we are simply asking investigators to look into it,” said Mr. Fusco.
Mr. Harrison declined to comment.