Source: Jonathan Davis

An investigation into why dozens of voting machines went down in New Jersey on Tuesday has begun amid a much tighter than expected gubernatorial race between Democratic incumbent Gov. Phil Murphy and GOP challenger and former New Jersey state Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli.

The Associated Press has already called the close contest for Murphy, though Ciattarelli’s campaign has called that premature and “irresponsible.”

But now there appears to have been an issue with as many as 56 voting machines, a glitch that is sure to conjure up thoughts regarding the post-2020 presidential election when surrogates for then-President Donald Trump made allegations of vote machine fraud that were never substantiated.

“Essex County Clerk Christopher Durkin says he has a lot of work ahead of him after the votes from 56 districts were not counted Tuesday night in the county,” News 12 reported.

“It’s a mix but they are mostly in Newark, in East Orange, Irvington, Maplewood, Montclair, the majority of those 56 districts,” says Durkin.

“Durkin says you can call it poll worker error,” News 12 reported. “There will be an investigation as to why it happened. He asks New Jersey residents not to jump to conclusions as to why the 56 voting machines were shut down last night without being counted first.”

“Those machines are at the polling places right now,” Durkin noted further. “Those machines have to be brought back to the warehouse. A judge will issue an order for us to open those machines, retrieve the results and post those results.”

However, the report stated, it did not look like that would happen on Wednesday.

“We need to compile a list of the results that are missing then need to schedule a hearing in front of a judge and then the judge issued the order and then we’re able to go and retrieve those results,” Durkin added.

Durkin then tried to assuage voters’ concerns by saying that “issues like this happen in every election in every county,” though sometimes statements like that can have the opposite effect. “The fact that it’s 56 voting machines in such a close race has obviously magnified this situation,” he said.

He added that he believes he’ll have the districts’ results by Thursday night.

“The sooner, the better,” Durkin added.

Five districts in Paterson experienced a similar situation with their machines as Essex County, Mayor Andre Seigh told News 12. In fact, election issues in Paterson, N.J. were significant a year ago.

“The troubles plaguing New Jersey’s suddenly all-mail elections, including an alleged voter fraud scheme in Paterson that led to four arrests Thursday, have critics questioning whether election officials can ensure that next month’s primaries will be fair,” the New Jersey Herald reported in June 2020.

“New Jersey has yet to get to its second of three rounds of 2020 elections, and so far we’ve seen misdelivered ballots, ballots dropped in piles in apartment lobbies and ballots burned in a mail truck fire,” the report added. “Meanwhile, clerks’ offices are inundated with a flood of mail-in ballots, plus thousands more applications for ballots, many from unaffiliated voters who clerks said don’t intend to vote in the July 7 primary.”

“Gov. Phil Murphy ordered May’s local elections and July’s primaries to be conducted almost entirely by mail as part of the state’s effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus,” the report noted.

“The allegations out of Paterson may be the most troubling,” the report added. “State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal alleges that Councilman Michael Jackson and Councilman-elect Alex Mendez handled mail-in ballots improperly. Jackson possessed too many mail-in ballots that were not his own and Mendez submitted voter registration applications he knew were false, Grewal claims. Two workers for a third campaign were also charged with election fraud.”

Trump’s campaign legal team filed a number of lawsuits in an effort to get courts to rule that changes made before the election without the input or authorization of state legislatures were illegal and unconstitutional, but they generally rejected such arguments.