Yet another reason why your voice matters. It’s the elected officials that think they can continue to just do as they please, and forget who they actually serve
Freeholders’ action opposed
FREEHOLD — The Monmouth County freeholders Thursday ordered the immediate consolidation of the operations of the Board of Elections and the Superintendent of Elections, saying state statute gives them the power to do so.
However, Board of Elections Chairwoman Leah Falk said she believes the consolidation is not proper and stems from a stalemate she said the board has had with the freeholders over hiring authority. Falk said she is seeking advice from the state Attorney General’s Office on whether the consolidation can be halted.
David Wald, spokesman for Attorney General Anne Milgram, said, “This decision is under review by our office.”
Falk, who is a Democrat, had said she was concerned that Republican Freeholder William C. Barham, the board’s former director, was interfering in board operations. The conflict escalated last week when a longtime Republican activist, Mary Fran Lane, was assigned from a Hall of Records position to the Board of Elections. Falk said she opposed the transfer.
But Barham said the freeholder board, which has a Republican majority, made the choice to consolidate in a “bipartisan manner,” and Democrat John D’Amico Jr. said, “I’m glad we’re moving forward.”
“There was no meddling,” Barham said.
“I think we all agree it’s an unfortunate situation with the presidential primary in New
Jersey coming up on Feb. 5,” D’Amico said.
Wald said the configuration of elections offices varies from county to county.
In Monmouth County, Hedra Siskel is the elections superintendent, a position that includes an office staff and is under the direction of the attorney general. The superintendent enforces election laws, acts as the registration commissioner, and has custody of the county’s voting machines, among other duties.
The Board of Elections — which is overseen by four commissioners appointed by the freeholders — has its own staff and is responsible for the selection of polling places, enforcement of accessibility laws, creation and maintenance of election districts, regulation of challengers, and the appointment and training of board workers. The board, made up of two Republicans and two Democrats, also oversees absentee ballot matters and tallies provisional ballots.
The five people working for the Board of Elections “are absolutely demoralized” by the freeholders’ order, Falk said.
“We don’t know who their boss is,” she said.
Barham disputed that. He said county Human Services personnel had been to the elections office and explained the new arrangement.
Offices for both the board and superintendent are in the same building on Halls Mill Road, Freehold Township.