We have said since even before polls closed on Nov. 8, 2022 that we will not stop until fundamental change is made in how Mercer County runs its elections.

Robbinsville Township is living up to its word with representatives attending multiple election-related meetings since November.

On Feb. 14, Councilwoman Chris Ciaccio and I attended the Board of Elections meeting in Lawrence and what we learned was concerning. What we didn’t learn was even more troubling.

We still do not know why, more than three months later, hundreds of Robbinsville ballots went missing; nor have we been assured it will not happen again. Hundreds of voters were disenfranchised, and we still have no viable explanation.

Voters in Robbinsville who arrived in the early morning (polls opened at 6 a.m.) were told by the poll workers to vote provisional after signing in because the machines were not properly scanning ballots.

All of those who followed those instructions had their votes thrown out because the prevailing “wisdom” was because they signed the book, which all voters do upon arriving at the polling station. Because they signed that book, Mercer County and the Board of Elections decided those residents surely must have voted using one of the Dominion machines. Hint: They didn’t.

So, because those now-disenfranchised individuals followed directions despite being inconvenienced very early in the morning on Election Day, their votes were thrown out because the Board of Elections concluded they submitted two ballots—one provisional and one on the machine.

We learned on the chain of custody of the ballots was shoddy, at best. What this means is we have no idea who sealed the bags, or if they remained sealed on their way to the Board of Elections office.

We learned bags containing ballots arrived at the Board of Elections office opened. This means anyone could have added ballots or taken ballots out. Those bags are supposed to be sealed. We also know that Uber drivers and rental trucks were used to transport ballots on Nov. 8.

Despite learning Dominion admitted making a mistake with the programming of their machines, we know that many voters had zero privacy during this most private of events. Many of these ballots were exposed to others in the room. We also learned there is no real plan to replace the Dominion machines.

I’ve been in this game a long time, and never in my wildest nightmares did I foresee people voting with Sharpies. With no privacy and using machines that have failed two years in a row, one would expect a better result.

The fact the Board of Elections scheduled this last meeting for 10 a.m., on Valentine’s Day, and didn’t insist that Superintendent of Elections Nathaniel Walker attend, tells you they did not want the public to come. Yet, the meeting was packed with many Robbinsville residents showing up to voice their continued displeasure. Kudos to you.

Mercer County Clerk Paula Sollami Covello was there. She stood in the back because, technically, it was not her meeting, but she did answer questions, nonetheless. The county clerk took some heat, but I felt she answered many of those questions honestly, and she has pledged a considerable amount of money to address the Dominion machine issues. I respect her for doing that.

Voting is our right. It is what keeps our nation free. If you care about Democracy, and I know you do, please email Lucylle Walter, chair of the Mercer County Board of Commissioners (formerly Freeholders), and ask her to please put money in the county budget to replace the Dominion machines. Her email is: lwalter@mercercounty.org.

The next meeting is March 9, at 6:45 p.m., and it is my understanding it will be a joint meeting at the McDade Administration Building in Trenton featuring the Board of Elections and the Commissioners.

The next Board of Elections meeting will take place on Tuesday, March 14 (10 a.m.) at 930 Spruce Street in Lawrence.

Please continue to make your voices heard.

Dave Fried is the Mayor of Robbinsville Township.

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