NEWARK, NJ - The candidate defeated in the East Ward council runoff election has filed a petition contesting the results, alleging voting irregularities and calling for a new election.
Anthony Campos, a former Newark chief of police, filed the petition on July 19 contesting the June 12 runoff election, according to court documents. Incumbent East Ward Councilman Augusto Amador won by a razor-thin margin, garnering 110 votes more than Campos, according to the official results certified by the city clerk's office.
"We want, at a minimum, a new and fair election," Campos said.
Campos' claims contesting the election point to several types of alleged voting irregularities. According to his court petition, 123 votes were illegally cast by non-residents of the East Ward, therefore rendering these votes ineligible, according to state statute.
Campos' petition also claims that 168 voters at the polls cast votes in which their signatures did not match the signature on file with elections officials, another violation of state election law.
These alleged irregularities, along with claims of voting machine errors as well as issues with vote-by-mail and provisional ballots, could call into question the result of the runoff election, according to Campos' petition.
"There were illegal votes received, as a result of machine error, violation of machine security, wrongful access to the voting machines, or misconduct of the district board of elections which would challenge the results of the election," the petition states.
Campos' petition specifically mentions Maria Riberio, the chief of staff for Councilman Amador, for allegedly violating election laws. Riberio allegedly worked as a designated district election board worker while simultaneously conducting get-out-of-the-vote activities on behalf of Amador, according to the petition.
Amador defended both his chief of staff and the conduct of his campaign.
"Nothing was done illegally. The burden is on Mr. Campos to demonstrate that any irregular votes went to him. In fact, I saw voter coercion, suppression, and intimidation on the streets," Amador said, inferring that Campos' supporters were involved.
"All of this effort is to justify spending another $500,000 on an election that he has already lost. Twice," Amador added.
Campos, however, said that he will press forward until he feels that a fully valid and verified election result is in place.
“Our investigation has turned up disturbing evidence of voting improprieties, and we are eager to present our case in court. As a career law enforcement officer, I cannot ignore the evidence of wrongdoing that we have uncovered. It is my duty to pursue this," Campos said. "The residents of the East Ward deserve to be represented by someone who was legally and legitimately elected by the voters and we are launching this action on their behalf.”
Essex County Superior Court Judge Thomas Vena ruled on Aug. 1 that Campos’ petition alleging voting irregularities and improprieties in the runoff election had satisfied the evidence requirements for the case to advance to trial, according to court documents.
Campos has retained John “Jack” Carbone of the law firm Carbone & Faasse as legal counsel.
Vena set a trial date for September 18.