Error causes SO ballot confusion

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — Ballots for the South Orange municipal elections were printed with a major error, which many residents learned last weekend when they received them in the mail. The ballots incorrectly placed village Board of Trustees candidates Bob Zuckerman and Ed Moore in the column for village president candidates; the slate of candidates containing Zuckerman and Moore had been shifted to the left, causing this mistake. South Orange Village Clerk Kevin Harris said in a phone interview with the News-Record on April 8 that new ballots would be mailed out at the beginning of the week, along with a letter explaining the mistake and telling voters to fill out the new one.

According to Harris, the village prints the announcement of candidates running in the News-Record and the Star-Ledger, as legally required, before hiring a printer to print the mail-in ballots. The clerk signs off on the print design and the printer sends the finished ballots to the county, which sends them to voters. Harris said that the mistake happened at the printer, after the notice ran in the newspapers. The announcement was in the News-Record on Thursday, March 28.

“Everyone will get a new ballot and a letter with an explanation telling them which ballot to use,” Harris said.

According to Essex County Clerk Christopher Durkin, the ballot is designed and paid for by the township because the only elections in May are for the South Orange village president and Board of Trustees. For county, state and national elections in November, Durkin said the ballots are compiled by his office.

“In the primary and county elections the local municipal clerks get petitions from any local candidates and send them to the county,” he said in an interview with the News-Record on April 8. “Then they’ll be put on the ballot.”

Durkin also said this was not the first time mail-in ballots have been printed incorrectly.