Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Dems Nominate 2 to County Board of Elections

With just two weeks to go to the election, Atlantic County Democrats are now suddenly scrambling to replace their two members on the four-person Atlantic County Board of Elections.

Democratic Chairman Jim Schroeder said the party would propose Ernest Aponte, 48, of Mullica Township, who has unsuccessfully run for several local offices, to replace Bernice “Sandy” Couch. It would also seek to nominate John W. Mooney, 68, of Galloway and a former county superintendent of elections, to replace Paula Dunn, whom Schroeder said has had health problems.

The board is responsible for counting the ballots after elections, as well as any recounts. State law requires two members apiece from the two parties with the highest vote totals in the most recent election.

State law says vacancies require the county and state chairmen to jointly nominate candidates to the governor, who then names them to the seats. Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for Gov. Chris Christie, did not respond to a request for comment.
Couch was first appointed to the board in December 2005. She filed this July to run for Pleasantville’s Board of Education. She said on Monday, “They need somebody who is going to look out for the kids and their education.”

State law bans anyone in elective office from sitting on a board that counts the ballots. It also says that a seat “shall be deemed vacant upon such member becoming a candidate for an office to be voted on at … any general election.”
Couch said board Chairman Roger K. Marshall told her about six weeks ago she would have to resign. Marshall did not respond to a request for comment.


On Tuesday, Atlantic County Freeholder Ernest Coursey criticized the picks. Coursey, who is black, said that Democrats proposed to replace a white woman and a black woman with two white men. Furthermore, Coursey, whose freeholder district includes much of Pleasantville and Atlantic City, said neither candidate hails from the two municipalities, which have the greatest number of Democratic voters.
Schroeder could not be reached Tuesday evening

Questions have been raised about the counting of Northfield's School Board Referendum and other matters.
 Lee Moore, a spokesman for the state Attorney General’s office, which provides legal guidance to the board, referred questions to the Department of State, which oversees elections. Department of State spokeswoman Nora Walsh did not respond to questions on Tuesday.

The second Democrat, Bernice “Sandy” Couch, filed to run for the Pleasantville Board of Education in July. State law says the seat immediately becomes vacant when an election board member runs for election, but Couch has said she did not know she had to give up her seat until recently.
She also only told other board members this month.
As a result, she was one of three commissioners who signed off on Northfield’s $7.4 million school board referendum. City voters voted nearly 3-1 for the proposal on Sept. 30.
It is unclear what will happen to the election.


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