Voting System Error in New Jersey Could Flip the Outcome of School Board Race: Officials

A vote-counting error caused some votes to be double-counted and could flip the outcome of a school board race in New Jersey, according to two candidates involved in the race.

Election Systems and Software said that a reporting error was discovered during the Nov. 8 election in Monmouth County, occurring when votes were uploaded via a flash drive. The company, known as ES&S, is the vendor for Monmouth’s election equipment.

The company described the issue to the New Jersey Globe as an “isolated incident occurred due to a human procedural error,” and “an audit of the system yielded this information.” The Epoch Times has contacted ES&S for comment.

“A technician inadvertently loaded votes twice in error,” ES&S spokesperson Katina Granger told CNN on Thursday. “Typically our software blocks this from happening. Unfortunately, a human error in a July software re-installment missed the step that would have flagged the mistake.”

After the re-installing of the software, she added that “a human procedural error during reinstallation excluded a step, which optimizes the system database and ensures USB flash media cannot be read twice during the results loading process” and “because the database was not optimized, the user was not notified when the USB flash media were loaded twice into the results reporting module.”

Outcome

Elaborating, the error occurred when a USB flash drive uploaded the voting results “twice” on the “results reporting module,” Granger said.

The school board race that was incorrectly counted was for the nonpartisan Ocean Township Board of Election race, said a Tuesday statement (pdf) from the school district. In the Nov. 8 race, Steve Clayton had unseated incumbent Jeffrey Weinstein by about 20 votes, but Weinstein may have actually won by one vote, according to the Globe’s analysis.

Clayton received 3,523 votes to Weinstein’s 3,503 votes during the midterm elections, taking office earlier this month, according to reports. Clayton told local media that under the new totals, he is now one vote behind Weinstein pending a recount which has to be certified by a judge.

“I’m a board member until I’m not a board member. My main concern is the integrity of the election and that whoever ends up taking the seat, the people have confidence in the outcome,” Clayton told the Ashbury Park Press.

Speaking to CNN Thursday, Clayton added that he received a call from the Monmouth County Clerk’s office earlier this week informing him of the error, was “shocked,” and is consulting his lawyer. “I’m not giving up yet,” he said. “We’re exploring our options.”

Weinstein said he received a call from local officials telling him of the error and is “just letting it go through its process.” According to reviews of their social media posts in mid-November, both Weinstein and Clayton had urged caution after the Nov. 8 election results were being counted.

“I don’t think I was thinking something like this might occur,” he told CNN. “Every election has its emotional ups and downs, but I didn’t think this would be part of it.”

Recertify?

On Thursday, Monmouth election officials asked the New Jersey Division of Elections to recertify the election machines and software updates after the error was confirmed.

“Monmouth County Election Offices also ask the state to create a new state mandated test and checklist to perform before elections to ensure the election software works properly,” Monmouth election officials told the Globe.

“Monmouth County followed the current state protocol to test the system prior to the 2022 General Election, but the only current tests provided by the state would not catch the step missed and acknowledged by ES&S which allowed votes to be counted twice.”

Going a step further, Democrat state Sen. Vin Gopal said he’s calling for a full investigation into the matter, describing the situation as “completely unacceptable.”

“Reversing the outcome of a race over two months after the election is completely unacceptable and creates an opening for questions about the integrity of elections in Monmouth County, and the state,” Gopal said in a statement to local media.

“Monmouth County, and the state, owes voters complete transparency on how these errors occurred and what steps are being taken to ensure they never repeat. A full investigation of all processes of the County Clerk and Board of Elections, in addition to anything relating to the elections process, needs to happen immediately.”

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