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State AG Asked to Review Freeholder Race

Recount finds four Parsippany Republicans voted twice

The state Attorney General’s Office was asked Wednesday to review the Morris County Freeholder primary election results, following the discovery that four registered Republicans from Parsippany voted twice on June 7—once by absentee ballot and once at the polls.

The discovery was made Wednesday during a recount of 1,605 absentee ballots that had been requested by incumbent Margaret Nordstrom, who has narrowly trailed challenger William Hank Lyon, 23, of Montville, in all counts to date.

The original count put her behind by 10 votes; the addition of provisional ballots left the race in the same place. But Wednesday's recount reduced Lyon’s 10-vote margin to six.

John Sette, chairman of the election board, said he notified Superior Court assignment judge Thomas Weisenbeck of  the matter, who then informed the Attorney General.

“I’ve been on the board of elections for 17 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this,” Sette said.

He said the voters who had filed the absentee ballots would have each had an “A” placed next to their names on the voter rolls, which would have been checked when they went to vote in person.

The issue, Sette said, is whether this matter is an issue of voter fraud, or whether the voters honestly forgot they voted  by absentee ballots (which are now filed by mail), and on election day cast provisional ballots.

Sette said this situation could trigger a review of all the provisional ballots for other irregularities.

Nordstrom’s election team had asked for the recount of the absentee ballots.

“The one thing we are sure of is that a Republican will win this race,” Sette said.

Alan Zakin, Nordstrom’s campaign manager said the Attorney General’s action will take place independent of any further action the campaign might take. Zakin said the campaign is considering filing to contest the entire election, which would challenge all 24,542 votes cast.

He also said voiding the ballots of the four people who each voted twice could result in an eight-vote swing.

The Republican winner will face Democrat Truscha Quatrone of Montville in the November general election. Quatrone ran unopposed in her party's primary.

Leo Ballard June 15, 2011 at 08:50 PM
No, that's not shady at all. Plenty of people send in absentee ballots and then forget about it.
Natalie Davis (Editor) June 15, 2011 at 09:19 PM
I suspect four people made honest mistakes. It happens. Now, if we were talking 400 or 4,000 repeat votes, that would be a different story. It has to be investigated, though, especially with a vote margin as close as the one separating Lyon and Nordstrom.
Maxim Sapozhnikov June 16, 2011 at 12:40 PM
The country is long overdue for a Voter ID law.
Montville Democratic Club June 16, 2011 at 05:38 PM
Unfortunately, most voter ID laws are thinly veiled attempts at disenfranchising people, rather than making the system more accurate. VOTER fraud is a minor problem - a problem of individuals, such as 4 people forgetting they voter previously by absentee ballot. ELECTION fraud, on the other hand, is a very serious problem in this country and involves the manipulation of hundreds or thousands of votes by parties or corporations. We've seen this across the country, most recently and notably in Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin (though, historically, both parties have done their share). The electronic voting machines, without a paper trail, are a major tool in election fraud. Get rid of them.
Maxim Sapozhnikov June 16, 2011 at 05:57 PM
This particular talking point has long worn out its welcome. The only people "disenfranchised" by the Voter ID law are illegals, felons, and deceased - population groups that, oh so surprisingly, routinely pull the (D)-lever in urban areas. As for the computer vs paper voting argument, a paper ballot box is so much easier to stuff. Why, I wonder, urban districts are always the last to produce a count in every closely contested election? (yeah, I know, some smart WI lady beat ya to it last time)

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