A strange election in Morris Township sets stage for another recount

NOT AGAIN! Morris Township Democratic challenger Jeff Grayzel may be headed for another recount. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
NOT AGAIN! Morris Township Democratic challenger Jeff Grayzel may be headed for another recount. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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Video: Voter alleges intimidation tactics at Morris Township polling place.

By Kevin Coughlin

A strange election in Morris Township began on Tuesday morning with a charge of voter intimidation at a polling place, and ended late in the evening behind closed doors in the Morris County Clerk’s Office.

As of 11 pm, county figures were showing that incumbent Republicans Matheu Nunn and Bruce Sisler had won re-election to the township committee, with 2,083 and 2,043 votes, respectively, defeating Democratic challengers Jeff Grayzel (2,041) and Cathy Wilson (2,020).

The Morris Township committee vote tally as of 11 pm on election night.
The Morris Township committee vote tally as of 11 pm on election night show Matheu Nunn on top.

Only a half hour earlier, however, the county was reporting that with all districts counted, Grayzel had a one-vote lead over Nunn, 2,175 to 2,174. Wilson trailed Nunn by nine votes, and Sisler was last with 2,050.

The county figures as of about 10:30 pm on election night showed Jeff Grayzel on top. Photo by Jeff Grayzel.
The county figures as of about 10:30 pm on election night showed Jeff Grayzel on top. Photo by Jeff Grayzel.

The numbers changed online while Nunn, Sisler and the rest of the township committee, along with former township GOP chairman Tom Luby and GOP consultant Alan Zakin met behind closed doors with county Clerk Ann Grossi, said Grayzel.

NOT AGAIN! Morris Township Democratic challenger Jeff Grayzel may be headed for another recount. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
NOT AGAIN! Morris Township Democratic challenger Jeff Grayzel may be headed for another recount. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

“It’s terribly disturbing that the change happened while there was a private meeting inside the Clerk’s office with the entire Morris Township committee,” said Grayzel, who intends to pursue a recount.

The former committeeman lost a recount by 14 votes last year. His victory in 2007 followed a recount and court-ordered runoff.

Grayzel said Grossi denied his request for inclusion in the discussions inside her office. “She said she can meet with anyone she wants to,” he said.

Grossi and Nunn could not be reached for comment late on Tuesday.

UPDATE: Grossi and Nunn respond.

Morris Township Mayor Dan Caffrey, left, and Committeewoman Louise Johnson parse election results at the Famished Frog. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Morris Township Mayor Dan Caffrey, left, and Committeewoman Louise Johnson parse election results during GOP gathering at the Famished Frog. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Earlier in the day, a voter told NBC TV that poll workers at the Convent Station voting place instructed Democrats and Republicans to use separate voting machines — a violation of voter confidentiality.

“This is intimidation and it’s not how things are supposed to work,'” voter Alison Gillen told the TV station. “It just seemed to me that they were trying to prevent any Democratic votes.”

The Morris County Board of Elections said it “immediately fixed the problem by re-educating the poll workers,” according to the broadcast account.

 

Committee candidate Cathy Wilson shows early numbers that put her in the thick of the fight. Photo by Berit Ollestad
Committee candidate Cathy Wilson shows early numbers that put her in the thick of the fight. Photo by Berit Ollestad

 

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15 COMMENTS

  1. There seems to be a lot of confusion out there. The Courthouse in question is not the Morristown Courthouse but the Morris County Courthouse. Morristown is the County seat of Morristown. That means their residents subsidize the cost of services for all those tax free facilities that serve the entire county and not just Morristown.It doesn’t seem fair but thats the law in New Jersey. I doubt that the average poll worker is eighty years old but often it is the older workers who are better informed about the rules, than newer workers who have only had a single training session.

  2. Why would the Morristown courthouse have any bearing on a Morris Township election? Maybe I’m missing something, but I would assume any voting that took place at the courthouse would have been for Morristown elections, so irrelevant to this discussion. Or are you floating a bigger conspiracy theory? The entire process is outdated and prone to numerous issues, but both sides are subjected to the same inefficiencies. Grayzel and Wilson lost. Again. So, let’s not waste any more time or tax payer dollars and move on.

  3. It should be noted also that although early voting was permitted at the Morristown Courthouse, when my husband went on Saturday to exercise that right, the parking spots were roped off and there was some type of construction blocking the two main ways to reach the Courthouse. Possibly coincidental, but also possibly not. Either way, there were probably a number of people dissuaded from voting simply because they could not get into the polling place. Even if there is no connection between that work and the desire to stop people from voting, the work should have been scheduled after voting was over, to allow unimpeded access.

  4. Whether or not there was any wrongdoing, the meeting that took place with the Republican committemen and the clerk behind doors is very suspicious, and casts a cloud over the Morris Township election process. What is happening in this country? There should be a re-election, with the present township committee personnel kept away.

  5. This is all caused by the lazy residents who refuse to vote.
    Such a shame. I wonder if they teach their children not to vote?

  6. It is also concerning that members of one party met behind closed doors with County election officials.
    There is no room for secrecy during the vote counting process.

  7. Folks – how about the “meeting” that happened after the results were posted and all could see that the votes changed from what had been published? Closed door meetings with no supervision? How is this fair, open, transparent, or anything like what democracy is meant to be? If it walks like a duck….

  8. JT and Ridge have forgotten about the right to a secret ballot. There is a risk of voter intimidation when a poll worker splits the voting booths this way and makes party preference a matter of public display.

  9. Yet another incident demonstrating how antiquated our election system is. If the general public knew how many infractions there are during each election, they would be incensed.

  10. That 80+ year old poll worker must have been very intimidating. Numerous terrified voters were seen fleeing the waiting room of the Convent train station during both the morning and evening commute. Give me a break.

  11. I was directed to a machine at Convent Station that had the entire ballot already selected for the Democratic slate. I questioned why this was pre-selected. The poll worker thought possibly the prior voter did not hit “Cast the Vote” and he attempted to push the button to clear the machine. The machine did not respond and I went into the adjacent machine – which was clear/ blank and proceeded to vote, selecting my own candidates.

  12. Unless someone was actually blocked from voting, it’s a non-issue. Clearly not a bright move, but not sure how it could possibly impact voting. Should also be noted that the average poll worker is 80+ years old and working a 12hour day. In this age of technology, signing a book & a piece of paper without providing one ounce of identification is beyond outdated. Betting there’s an app for that…

  13. Involved poll workers at the Convent Station should be prosecuted to the full extent that the law allows. In addition to breaking the law they have violated a sacred trust. Clear and simple, this is dirty politics. It also seems likely that others who hired them and are responsible for supervising them are inviolved

  14. In a close election having poll workers erroneously or maliciousl compelling voters to vote in a particular machine based on party is beyond insane…it can skew the results of the whole election. If this actually happened a recount can’t repair the damage…There needs to be a new election.

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