December 4, 2019

Municipal Republican Chair Offers Thoughts On Missing Mail-In Ballots

To the Editor:

I also attended the Mercer County Board of Elections meeting occasioned by the “discovery” of 800 missing mail-in ballots to which Scotia Macrae referred in her letter [“Spare No Expense to Safeguard Our Democracy,” Mailbox, Nov. 27]. In general, I agree with the observations and recommendations she offered. This year, the missing ballots didn’t make a difference in the outcome, but in a close election they could have if the “missing” were somehow not found.

Ms. Macrae raises the specter of potential Russian vote-tampering. The clear and present danger to our voting system is much more obvious, however. To quote cartoon character Pogo, “I have met the enemy and he is us.” That is, the processing, tabulating, and posting of votes are done by people. The possibilities for malfeasance, misfeasance, and nonfeasance are ever-present. The arbitrary rejection of mail-in ballots, including for supposed signature discrepancies, has been held unconstitutional in other states, but continues in Mercer County.

While the vast majority of poll workers are conscientious, there are too many who are simply unsuitable for the task at hand. Whether owing to fatigue, poor training, or indifference, serious mistakes are made by poll workers that, in effect, disenfranchise voters. Again in Princeton as happened last year, bags of provisional ballots were tossed out because poll workers failed to seal the bags properly.

Gov. Murphy’s ill-advised and politically motivated expansion of mail-in ballots has overwhelmed the Board of Elections without either the state or county providing resources to expand its staff or space to enable better oversight and training.

But, when the system in place is working in favor of the party controlling all levers of power in the county and state, there is very little incentive to change.

Dudley Sipprelle
Chair, Princeton Municipal Republican Committee
Victoria Mews