TRENTON, NJ -- A charge by Mercer County Republican Chairwoman Lisa Richford that county election officials are willfully disenfranchising Republican voters by only sending vote-by-mail ballots to registered Democrats is "totally false," Paula Sollami Covello, the Mercer County Clerk said.
In fact, Sollami Covello noted during a conversation with TAPinto Hamilton/Robbinsville, she, as well as the deputy county clerk, as well as many other Democrats that contacted her office, have not received their ballots yet.
"Ballots began going out on June 10th and continue to be mailed today. My direction to the mail house was that they are to go out town by town with Hamilton to be sent out first. Trenton was to be sent out second so as to get the biggest towns mailed out first, with the others to follow," said Covello.
"We hired a reputable independent mail house for the mailing as they also mail out Mercer County sample ballots for each election. We chose to hire a mail house based on the high volume of ballots to be sent to all registered Democrats and Republicans in Mercer County especially in light of the County's closure due to COVID 19.
Richford says that she has polled Republican voters through Facebook and "not one" has received their vote-by-mail ballot.
“According to the Mercer County Clerk, ballots were mailed between June 10 through June 12th and Hamilton and Trenton were the first to be mailed out because of their size. Then why is it that only Democrats in each town have received ballots and not Republicans?"
"It is extremely concerning that one party appears to be favored over another, especially with Ms. Covello herself being a member of the Democratic Party. The voting public needs to be reassured that the election process in Mercer County is being held to the highest standards possible," said Richford. "This is concerning enough to where I believe an investigation is warranted."
Sollami Covello says she has been in touch with the Regional Manager of the South Jersey Postal Service and has been assured that "he is has been working to make sure mail is moving along."
"The US Postal Service is handling not only 130,000 mail-in ballots sent in Mercer but also the ballots from the rest of the counties in the State of New Jersey. Additionally, the US Postal Service is processing our 90,000 unaffiliated applications sent and those sent throughout New Jersey," said Sollami Covello.
The July 7 primary election will be a largely vote-by-mail election under an executive order by Governor Phil Murphy as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus. An in-person polling location will still be available in each municipality for those who do not wish to vote-by-mail.
All ballots mailed in must be postmarked no later than July 7 and received by the Board of Elections no later than July 14, one week after the Election.
Voter who do not receive a ballot by Monday, June 22 can contact the Mercer County Clerk's office at (609) 989-6465 or Vote@mercercounty.org.. The Office can help track and possibly replace the ballot.
Know a story we should share with readers? Email editor Elizabeth Meyers and tell her about it.