Local election race in New Jersey flips after voting machine irregularities corrected

 January 18, 2023

A school board race in Monmouth County has flipped after the discovery of tabulation errors on electronic voting machines that were used in the race.

Steve Clayton won the election over Jeffrey Weinstein by 20 votes after the initial count in Ocean Township, but after the tabulation errors were corrected, Weinstein was ahead by one vote.

Turns out the votes were double-counted across four municipalities, which the Board of Elections discovered when investigating another unrelated issue.

The voting machine vendor, Election Systems and Software (ES&S), has “acknowledged” the mistake that caused the errors, according to the Globe.

What happens now?

Clayton has already started his term on the board, but said he would let the process play out.

“I will let the process play itself out,” he said. “I’m laser-focused on what the voters sent me to do.”

Sussex County Clerk Jeff Parrott said he was “disappointed” that the state’s attorney general’s office has not notified him or any other clerks of the errors discovered in Monmouth County.

“Nobody has brought it to my attention. I’m disappointed and dismayed,” Parrott said. “It’s unacceptable to me.”

Even more errors

ES&S scans and counts ballots in 30% of New Jersey counties, but no other races were so close that any other flips are expected.

Vote totals could change in Belmar, Fair Haven, and Tinton Falls.

The random error was not the result of any parties involved trying to create or change election results.

It shows that even without intentional fraud, however, errors can happen with electronic voting machines that can change election results.

The potential for fraud with electronic voting machines has been documented, both intentional fraud and errors caused by improper operation or random errors like the machines in New Jersey.

How mistakes happen

Election machine expert Harri Hursti said that election officials and workers don't always have enough training to operate electronic machines correctly."They just don't have the proper training," he said.

Hursti, who works for governments to investigate irregularities, said another problem is not keeping careful track of the machines. "They leave them behind someplace and just totally forget them," he said, noting one instance in which a machine was left at a hotel for more than a year. "The hotel called and tried to tell them they left it but no one ever called back. So they sold it, which is legal for them to do."

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