SECOND BALLOT HEARING TURNS INTO FACT-FINDING SESSION
ATTORNEY AGREES ON REJECTION OF 32 BALLOTS, 332 STILL IN DISPUTE
A second hearing in the Asbury Park ballot challenge case turned into an all-day closed-door work session for those named in the suit and their lawyers.
Daniel Harris III, an unsuccessful candidate on the A-Team slate, filed a challenge last month to the results of the May 14 city council election.
His petition seeks to count 332 vote-by-mail and 32 provisional ballots that were disallowed by the Monmouth County Board of Elections. Harris and his A-Team running mates — Duanne Small, Jim Keady, Nora Hyland and Remond Palmer — were in attendance at yesterday’s hearing.
Keady and Small are 178 votes away from potentially unseating Mayor Myra Campbell and Deputy Mayor Sue Henderson, the lowest vote-getters who won seats on the city council.
Lawyers for the Monmouth County Clerk, Monmouth County Board of Elections and the Monmouth County Superintendent of Elections reviewed each individual ballot in question with Harris’s attorney, Kristie M. Howard of Montclair.
During the review process, Howard agreed that 32 of the 364 ballots in question were properly rejected, which leaves 332 unopened ballots still contested.
Also present in the closed-door session were Councilmembers Amy Quinn and John Moor [who were named in the petition], the unsuccessful A-Team candidates and Eric D. Brophy of Wall, an attorney representing Councilmembers Sue Henderson and John Loffredo. Loffredo and Henderson were not in attendance.
“We went over all mail-in ballots and provisional ballots to clarify issues,” said Deputy Attorney General George N. Cohen, who represents the Monmouth County Board of Elections and the Monmouth County Superintendent of Elections. “We did reach an agreement on some ballots.”
“It was an opportunity for us to look at what the commission decided on each and every ballot, and to gain a better understanding of why [they made those decisions]” said Howard. “It was an opportunity to show the rules of the game and what the board looks for in a valid ballot,” said Monmouth County Clerk Claire French. While the facts were being reviewed behind closed doors, about 20 city residents who came by bus hired by the A-Team waited outside the court room all day. Of the residents, 12 had their ballots rejected and they were ready to give testimony should the need arise, according to Nicole Harris, Daniel Harris’s daughter.
Harris attended to support her father, she said. The case resumes this morning at 9:30 a.m. in front of Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Dennis O’Brien.
Asbury Sun | July 17, 2013