State should pay for do-over elections it caused, assemblyman says

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The state should pay for any new election if the state is at fault for why a new election must be held, Assemblyman Ron Dancer says.

Dancer will introduce legislation that would require the state to reimburse municipalities or counties for those do-over election costs.

“Although rare, mistakes do happen as we saw with the Old Bridge township council election last year,” Dancer (R-Ocean) said in a prepared statement. “If the state made the error, the state must pay to correct it.”

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A Superior Court judge invalidated the results of the Old Bridge Ward 4 Township Council election in which Democrat Jill DeCaro defeated incumbent Republican Mark Razzoli by 11 votes. The judge found that 17 registered voters cast ballots in the wrong ward due to an error in the Statewide Voter Registration System, maintained by the state Division of Elections.

The total costs of the Old Bridge special election March 22 were not immediately available. However, if passed, Dancer’s bill would be retroactive to Nov. 1, 2021, allowing the township to apply for reimbursement through the Secretary of State, according to the statement.

“Local special elections can cost tens of thousands of dollars in printing, postage, rental fees, and poll worker wages among other expenditures,” Dancer said in the statement. “Local property taxpayers shouldn’t shoulder that burden if a mistake by the state forced the special election.”

Dancer said he is pleased that the bill has been endorsed by the New Jersey Association of Counties (NJAC).

“NJAC commends Assemblyman Dancer for his leadership in introducing this important legislation,” John G. Donnadio, executive director of the NJAC, said in the statement.

Dancer also said he appreciates the supportive comments made by Mike Cerra, executive director of the NJ League of Municipalities.

“If the state creates an unexpected issue that impacts local property taxpayers, it has a responsibility to fund the required corrective action. We thank Assemblyman Dancer for introducing this legislation that would provide fairness for New Jersey’s residents,” Cerra said in the statement.

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