Over the past few months, New Jersey voters have sadly enjoyed a front row seat to voter fraud. No international intrigue or dazzling cybercrimes to report here, just the usual well-intentioned government tripped up to the benefit of self-serving political insiders.  

In Bergen County’s Elmwood Park, incumbent mayor Frank Caramagna was accused of filling in ballots of other registered voters from March 2017 through November 2018. In Hoboken, Frank Raia was found guilty of orchestrating the payment of $50 per vote for low-income residents living in subsidized housing. 

The common threads in these two examples? Clear flaws in the administration of vote by mail balloting.

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As background, “Vote by Mail” was substantially expanded in New Jersey shortly before the November 2018 election. At the time, the legislature and governor changed the rules so that if you mailed in your ballot in the 2016 elections, you would be designated a mail-in voter and your county clerk would then automatically mail you a ballot unless formally request otherwise. As a result, vote by mail ballots will play an increasingly significant role in New Jersey elections and demand even more rigorous oversight to eliminate potential for fraud. 

Given this recent change in election law and clear examples of vote by mail fraud in Elmwood Park and Hoboken, Summit Republicans recently drafted, approved, and distributed a resolution calling attention to the real risks and proposing common sense changes to the mail-in voting process. This and potentially other refinements will help ensure that future elections reflect the will of the people and do not inadvertently (or otherwise) disenfranchise voters.

We applaud Union County’s multi-million dollar investment in new voting machines for the entire County, but call on our election officials to prioritize a thorough and transparent review of vote by mail balloting. Together we can grow voter engagement and confidence in the exercise of our voting rights - whether in the voting booth or by mail. 

Steven Spurr
Chair, Summit Republicans