MORRIS COUNTY — As reported this past weekend, the Morris County Clerk’s Office has this year given out incorrect information to municipal clerks, political party committees and candidates regarding filing requirements to run for office in Morris County. Specifically, the number of signatures candidates were required to collect in order to appear on the ballot was short of the actual total needed in most cases.
“Americans of all political stripes are justifiably concerned about the integrity of our elections process,” stated Shala Gagliardi, the opponent of County Clerk Ann Grossi in this year’s general election. “Mistakes like this have the potential to leave countless candidates for office off of the ballot through no fault of their own, and irreversibly distort the choices presented to voters in this year’s election.”
Over a thousand candidates running for county committee seats throughout Morris County may be affected by the error, which has been documented in recent electronic exchanges between the Morris County Clerk’s Office and various governmental and political entities. As of this time, a determination of what will happen to those candidates who collected fewer signatures than required based on the County Clerk’s instructions has not been announced.
“The fact that a clear state statute (N.J.S.A. 19:23-8) governing the very first step in the yearly election process has gone unheeded for Clerk Grossi’s entire tenure is unnerving, particular as she is an attorney herself,” Gagliardi continued. “Given the facts, I am calling for an audit of the election practices in the Morris County Clerk’s Office by an independent agency, to determine whether any other election laws have been ignored, misinterpreted, overlooked or unenforced. I am asking that all Morris County leaders with a stake in the elections process join me in ensuring that our laws are followed and that the public can have justifiable faith in the democratic process.”
The Morris County Freeholder Board has the power to appoint an independent attorney to audit practices within county departments, including the Clerk’s Office. The New Jersey Attorney General also has the power to conduct an investigation.
“The buck always stops at the top, and County Clerk Ann Grossi must take responsibility for this mistake,” Gagliardi concluded. “Both Democrats and Republicans may be affected; if there is one thing we can all agree on, it’s that our elections must be free, fair, transparent and conducted fully in accordance with the letter of the law.”