Wrong ballots sent out in Monmouth? Don’t worry, clerk says
FREEHOLD BOROUGH — A comment made at a meeting of Democratic county party bosses could have spiraled into unfounded rumors of massive ballot problems, according to the Monmouth County clerk.
Congressional candidate Josh Welle, who is challenging longtime U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J. 4th District, in the upcoming midterm elections, posted on his Facebook page that his campaign has received reports of voters getting mail-in ballots with the wrong candidates. Rumors of the incorrect ballots have spread as election officials deal with the fallout from the changes in the write-in ballot laws.
Monmouth County Clerk Christine Hanlon, a Republican, called it "false information."
"We are told that it has been posted that thousands of incorrect ballots were sent to voters in CD4. This is not accurate," Hanlon said in a Facebook post on Wednesday.
The Asbury Park Press reported the rumors may have started when Allan Roth, a Democrat, and the secretary of the Monmouth County Board of Elections spoke at a meeting on Tuesday. Roth told The Press that he reminded municipal leaders to have their members check their ballots, but said no numbers were given out about the number of possible incorrect ballots received.
"There would be no way to know how many ballots, if any, went out (to the wrong voters)," he told the newspaper.
Hanlon told New Jersey 101.5 on Thursday that her office has received less than 10 calls about people receiving the wrong ballot. With her office sending out more than 32,000 ballots, stuffed by hand by county employees, she said there are bound to be mistakes. She also said there is no conspiracy against any candidates.
"It was a false story that got tout off control on Facebook," she said. "Our office took immediate steps to address the false information and posted on Facebook that the information that was going around was false, but that if anyone has any questions or concerns they can contact the Monmouth County Clerk's Office."
In his post, Welle encouraged anyone with ballot issues to contact his campaign, but Hanlon said the issues can be more rapidly and correctly addressed by calling her office.
"Mr. Welle appears to be making a political issue out of something that is not," she said. "People oftentimes call us and think they've received the wrong ballot, but yet they did not, but we're happy to address those concerns."
While Smith said in a statement that he has "no reason to doubt the bipartisan explanations by (Roth and Hanon)," and was "confident they will continue to monitor the situation with diligence and professionalism," Welle was not as understanding. In a statement to New Jersey 101.5 Welle said he had "several people" reach out to to his campaign about getting incorrect ballots. He said his campaign directed the people with issues to Hanlon's office.
"In my view even if one person receives an incorrect ballot, that is one too many," he said. "This isn't about politics, it's about a right as an American to cast your ballot."
Questions about mail-in ballots come as election officials are working to implement the new law signed by Gov. Murphy in August. The law automatically made anyone who voted by mail in the 2016 general election a mail-in voter in the upcoming midterms as well. Those who did not want to vote by mail in this election had the option to opt out, but will not be allowed to vote at the machines in November if they receive a mailed ballot. If they go to their polling place to vote they will be allowed to fill out a provisional ballot.
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