County Freeholder Race Update!
I forgot to publish this press release this week from Ines Garcia-Keim, and her demand for a recount of the machine votes in Jersey City Heights.
Additionally, she also added this yesterday: “(Frank) Raia and I went before Judge Gallipoli this afternoon. He ordered an immediate recount on the machines, we went to the machine warehouse and I now have the machine tally tapes. I will be reviewing them myself so I can save on legal fees. We’ll see how that turns out and we’ll take it from there in the area of voting machine problems. The provisional and absentee ballot recount is scheduled for Monday.”
Ines Files for Recount of Jersey City Votes
Complaint raises questions on accuracy of voting machine tallies
Ines Garcia Keim, a candidate in the Democratic Primary for Hudson County’s 5th Freeholder District, filed a petition in Hudson County’s Superior Court on Tuesday requesting a recount of all votes cast at June 3rd, 2008 primary in the freeholder districts located in Wards C and D in Jersey City Heights. In her complaint, Ms. Garcia-Keim is also requesting a recount of all 48 provisional ballots cast and all absentee ballots received for the district.
The complaint cites “irregularities and technical difficulties which affected the vote totals that occurred during the election.” It mentions specifically: “difficulties in extracting voter machine cartridges” and a voting authority book that was “lost or misplaced.” At 9:42 PM on election night, the Hudson County Clerk reported returns for 100% of all voting machines in the district. However, the clerk petitioned the court on Friday, June 6th to open and check results on the voting machine in Ward D, District 21. On that day that machine cartridge was removed and the full results tallied.
Interest from Voting Rights Groups
Thurman Hart, a contributor to the Blue Jersey blog, called the report of a missing voting cartridge a “bomb.” Bev Harris, Executive Director of Black Box Voting, a non-partisan, non-profit consumer protection group for elections, said the incident was “a significant anomaly.” Ms. Harris wrote: “How exactly does a cartridge get “stuck” and deliver some results but not others? Please let me know when your bank statement gets “stuck” and lists all the checks except those you wrote to the phone company. Anomalies such as these warrant a closer look and a better explanation than “Oops.””
In a statement to supporters, Ms. Garcia-Keim also observed that “under-votes” were recorded for Senator Frank Lautenberg in 35% of the Jersey City districts. In those districts, the declared winner in the freeholder primary, Anthony Romano, received more votes than Senator Lautenberg. Sequoia touch-screen voting machines like those used in Hudson County were found to make similar errors in reporting vote tallies in the New Jersey Presidential Primary last February. Representatives from the Rutgers University Constitutional Litigation Clinic have expressed interest in the Hudson County results from the June primary and requested information on the “under-vote” patterns in this election. A case brought by the Rutgers Clinic is currently making its way through the courts in an effort to establish a testing protocol and a verifiable paper trail for the Sequoia voting machines.
Ms. Garcia-Keim is represented by Edward J. Trawinski, a partner at Schenck, Price, Smith & King, LLP.
In her e-mail statement to supporters, Ms. Garcia-Keim, who has a long history in Hoboken advocating for open and transparent government initiatives, remained committed to those values. She wrote: “This election did not end on election night. I will not concede until every vote is fairly, observably and securely counted. I owe this to my supporters and everyone who participated in this primary. This is not just about the candidates. It’s about the integrity of our election process.”
See previous updates, etc., after the jump…
6/8/2008 1pm Update:
In case anyone is wondering, here’s the missing tally from Jersey City Heights Ward D, District 21:
6/4/2008 9:30pm Update:
A Hoboken411 reader was nice enough to get the Jersey City Heights Ward/District numbers for yesterdays election, and said “do you think Garcia-Keim and Raia just didn’t realize Romano was riding the Column C coattails?”
6/4/2008 6pm Update:
Where are the JC votes?
Looking to get to the bottom of the voting inconsistencies, I stopped by the Hudson County Clerk this afternoon. I was greeted with a “we haven’t finished tabulating yet. What you see on the website is all that we have at the moment. Perhaps some time next week, but no later than 10 days.”
So much for trying to delve deeper into this mystery, it seems they’re having the same problem! Wonder why, when Hoboken’s votes were so quickly calculated?
Who really won this thing?
As usual in Hudson County, something stinks in Denmark (make that Jersey City) and a recount challenge is likely in the 5th District freeholder primary in Hoboken and Jersey City Heights. Nobody is quite sure who won as the reported numbers simply do not add up. The preliminary numbers indicate Anthony Romano won the district, even though he came up short in Hoboken.
A simple analysis of the vote tallies provided by Hoboken City Clerk Jim Farina and the website of the Hudson County Clerk (which supposedly includes numbers form Jersey City) shows somebody is getting it wrong. If the numbers are to be believed, Frank “Pupie” Raia actually LOST 203 votes in Jersey City! How is that possible? It isn’t.
Here is what the clerks are reporting:
The Hoboken numbers were presented on printout sheets while the numbers from Hudson County claim to be 100% of the votes counted in 56 of 56 districts in Hoboken AND Jersey City. The numbers appear wrong on several levels, the most obvious being the fact that it is impossible for Frank Raia’s total to have gone DOWN 203 votes when you the Hoboken and Jersey City tallies are added together.
Second, the supporters of Ines Garcia-Keim believe they received more than 150 votes in (majority latino) Jersey City Heights. Third, people who follow politics in Hudson County are skeptical that the shoestring street campaign in the Heights run by the HCDO for Anthony Romano could have legitimately yielded 519 votes. Raia and Russo campaign operatives at city hall last night were openly questioning the sudden influx of votes for Romano at the last minute, and some are crying foul.
Recount may be ahead, followed by possible legal challenge.
Today the Raia and Garcia Keim campaigns are expected to consult with election attorneys to begin the process of a recount and investigation of these irregularities. While the HCDO and Raia/Russo political machines were keeping a close eye on each other in Hoboken, the HCDO machine for Romano may have run away with the store in Jersey City Heights. Exactly what really happened here is unknown. Some expect a tabulation error while others suspect foul play. It could be a while before anyone knows for sure what is going on here, and who actually won this race.
Unlike other websites that simply reported the numbers handed to them without question, Hoboken411 actually did the math. Stay tuned for how this develops.
Sources have indicated that both Ines Garcia-Keim and Frank Raia will file charges that the Jersey City vote was inaccurate, and demand a recount. I’ve heard that the numbers were so skewed in Romano’s favor when he hardly campaigned there, and a recount will be requested.
What are your thoughts about that?
Anthony Romano wins
98.21% 100% of the machine vote counted (not including absentee and provisional ballots), here are current results. It seems that Anthony Romano has what appears to be an unsurmountable lead. You can check back later for final numbers.
This is it! It’s time to get out and vote! The polls open at 6am and will close at 8pm tonight. Democrats and Republicans will choose the candidate for U.S. Senate, along with a number of hotly contested Democratic District Committee races, but the top draw in Hoboken is the neck-in-neck, winner-take-all, three-way race for County Freeholder.
I’m hearing from people close to all three camps that late polling shows all three candidates in a virtual three-way-tie within the margin of error, with many voters still undecided. The too-close-to-call polls have not been made public. The bottom line is the winning candidate in the 5th district including Hoboken and Jersey City Heights only has to win 33.4% of the votes to advance to the November election. There is no runoff in this primary. Some say this bodes very well for Ines Garcia-Keim. How?
Take a look at the highest vote totals ever reached by each candidate:
The candidate in this race who has received the most votes in a citywide race is Ines Garcia-Keim. The closest thing to a head-to-head battle between these candidates was May 2005 when both Garcia-Keim and Frank “Pupie” Raia were on the ballot. Ines got 488 more votes than Pupie did that day, and nearly doubled his highest vote totals for Mayor and School Board in the runoff a month later. Raia and Anthony Romano’s head-to-head battle came when they were both running for Board of Education in 2006. Stick got 4 more votes than Pupie that day.
Two Italian machine guys against a Latina Reformer
Add to that the fact that there are two middle-aged male Italian-American candidates splitting the traditional Hoboken vote for middle-aged male Italian-American candidates, and you have the recipe for a Garcia-Keim victory IF newcomers vote. Garcia-Keim has also been courting the majority Latino vote in Jersey City Heights. Nobody counts out Raia (and his money) or Romano (and the HCDO’s machine), but the demographics of the district favor Garcia-Keim in a 3-way race. This weekend Ines also got a boost from the JJ’s editorial board:
Inés García Keim, a Barnard College graduate, is a Mile Square City civic activist who served on an amazing long list of organizations and panels. They range from being a founding member of People for Open Government to serving on the first domestic violence response team in Hudson County, as a volunteer for WomenRising and the Hoboken Police Department.
Her opponents, Frank Raia and Police Capt. Anthony Romano, are each supported, whether publicly or surreptitiously, by established political organizations. Romano is actually a second choice for candidate by the administration of Hoboken Mayor David Roberts. Both men could be considered representatives of the status quo and the theme here is for more independence. – 5/31/08
That endorsement may carry particular weight in Jersey City Heights. So, this race ain’t over ‘til it’s over, but it will be over at 8pm tonight. The HCDO is going to be on a tear to avoid losing this showdown, so if you hear of any voting irregularities, or are hassled at the polls, send Hoboken411 an email.
To learn more about the candidates and where they stand, read the early updates below, as well as:
- Ruben Ramos supports Anthony Romano
- Michael Russo supports Frank Raia
- Beth Mason supports Ines Garcia-Keim
- Where do Zimmer and Cunningham stand?
Here is the latest ELEC scorecard update:
Here are the 29 Day ELEC reports for the three candidates for Freeholder (PDF’s):
Freeholder Primary: 2 Weeks and Counting!
Two weeks from today Democrats from Hoboken and Jersey City Heights will choose a candidate for Hudson County Freeholder. There’s been no shortage of twists and turns since Ines Garcia-Keim announced her intention to challenge 15-year incumbent Maurice Fitzgibbons, who then made the choice to step aside. Each of the remaining candidates have their share of strengths and weaknesses that are keeping this race very interesting.
The story so far
In an effort to avoid another all-out county political war, the Hudson County Democratic Organization offered to let Union City Mayor Brian Stack choose who would receive county machine support to run for the Hoboken seat. The name of former Councilman and current Police Captain James Fitzsimmons came up, and petitions were circulated. This renewed Frank “Pupie” Raia’s interest in the race, and he filed to run as well. Raia was widely rumored to have been promised HCDO support for Freeholder last year when he agreed to run for Third Ward councilman against the DFHC’s Mike Russo.
Bye Bye Jimmy Fitz
Apparently not happy with the “due diligence” done before Fitzsimmons was selected, the “powers that be” ended up dis-inviting Jimmy Fitz to the party, opting instead to promote another Police Captain for the job. Anthony “Stick” Romano stepped up to the plate and was offered the HCDO line on the ballot, by way of Stack and Mayor David Roberts. Raia is the Rodney Dangerfield of Hoboken politics, often very helpful in getting others elected but seemingly incapable of getting himself elected to anything higher than school board (though not for lack of trying).
Getting the message out
With two weeks to go Ines is the only candidate who has made an attempt to get her message across to Hoboken411 readers (see more here). Pupie and Stick have made no attempt to send me press releases, announcements, or anything about why they are running and what the hope to accomplish.
I have said over and over and over again that I invite all candidates for local office — as well as those who hold local office – to submit their message to 411 to be widely disseminated to the widest Hoboken audience available anywhere. No other local information venue offers the reach of Hoboken411, yet some people choose to ignore the opportunity to take advantage of it.
Calling all candidates and councilpersons!!
Since the candidates (with the exception of Garcia-Keim) haven’t come to 411, then I will again reach out to them. This serves as public notice to ALL THREE candidates that the offer still stands to present your case for running.
I am also making public notice of the fact that I have sent every member of the City Council the following message:
Dear City Council Member,
Hoboken411 is the most widely read website in Hoboken with readers from all walks of Hoboken life who want to know where YOU stand on the issues. I am writing to ask the following questions: Which candidate (if any) are you supporting for County Freeholder?
In addition, if you choose, I will publish an unedited message from you of no more than 250 words explaining why you support that candidate. The deadline for this is Friday, May 23rd for publishing next week. Even if you don’t wish to write a message explaining your position, the courtesy of a reply including the name of the candidate of your choice (or lack thereof) is requested by our readers as soon as possible.
I look forward to your reply in the hope that you will take advantage of the unrivaled access to your constituents that Hoboken411 provides.
Some city council and school board members have tough choices to make. For others, the choice is easy. For instance, in this weekend’s Hoboken Reporter Raia mentioned his conversations with Dawn Zimmer and Peter Cunningham. That could lead some to believe they are supporting Raia, while others would expect them to be backing Garcia-Keim, who has a long history of reform activism in town. What’s the real story? I’m asking them to tell you.
I’ll let you know who responds, and who conveniently “forgets” to return the email. Keep checking Hoboken411 for breaking news day and night.
4/7/2008 4:15pm Update:
It’s a four-way race!
The deadline to submit petitions for Freeholder has come and gone with four candidates submitting their petitions to run. School board member and Hoboken Police Captain Anthony “Stick” Romano threw his hat into the ring at the last minute amid growing rumors that Dave Roberts’ pick – Jimmy Fitzsimmons may withdraw after submitting petitions last week. Frank “Pupie” Raia is also in the race facing independent activist Ines Garcia Keim. If everyone stays in the race, Garcia Keim will face three male candidates who may split the traditional Hoboken vote. This will be one of the key primary battles to watch in Hudson County.
County Freeholder Race Intrigue!
Petitions are due this afternoon for the people who want to represent Hoboken on the Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders. This legislature decides how to spend about $400 million dollars a year to keep the legendary “County Machine” running. Members are usually hand picked by party bosses, but this year a veteran Hoboken activist has thrown a big wrench into the works.
15-year incumbent toppled by Garcia Keim
Freeholder Maurice Fitzgibbons served five consecutive three-year terms representing Hoboken and Jersey City Heights, and up until recently he had every intention to run for a sixth. This year Fitzgibbons thought he had enough sway with both the Hudson County Democratic Organization and Brian Stack’s Democrats For Hudson County to get support from both sides. Then came Ines.
Ines Garcia Keim jumped into the freeholder race early and made a big splash. So big that the party bosses from both the HCDO and DFHC told Fitzgibbons they would not support him. Ines served as Beth Mason’s treasurer during her successful city council race. She also ran unsuccessfully for City Council in 2003 and 2005. This time Garcia Keim is running with the campaign team that helped get Mason elected.
Party Bosses go to “Plan B”
Convinced Fitzgibbons was headed for defeat at the hands of Garcia Keim, politicos including County Executive Tom Degise, Mayors David Roberts of Hoboken, Brian Stack of Union City, and Jerramiah Healey of Jersey City had to come up with a candidate they thought would have a chance against Ines. The man they came up with (according to this weekend’s Hoboken Reporter) is Hoboken Police Captain James Fitzsimmons.
Jimmy Fitz back in Politics?
Some people wonder why, after what has been the worst year for the Hoboken Police Department’s reputation in recent memory, the politicians would be looking to the HPD for a new Freeholder candidate. The answer is a short one: Fitzsimmons is a handsome man and people like him, especially Mayor David Roberts. He was quoted in the Reporter this weekend saying, “I’m going to be supporting Jim Fitzsimmons. We grew up in Hoboken together.”
Used to be with Russo, now he’s with Roberts
Captain Fitzsimmons was elected Councilman-at-Large in 1993 with Mayor Anthony Russo slate. He once challenged Fitzgibbons, but lost. In 1999 he stepped down from the council to rise to the rank of Lieutenant in the HPD. In 2001 when Russo sought a third term against challenger David Roberts, he tapped Fitzsimmons to run again for council. The Russo slate lost. Since then, Fitzsimmons became Captain and Director of the Office of Emergency Management.
He also got headlines for getting entangled in a catfight between two women who once shared his affections in the CVS on Washington Street. One of the women filed charges against Fitzsimmons for the alleged use of excessive force, and he had to relinquish his gun. Details of how the charges were disposed of were – like many other things in Hoboken – hushed up. The OEM director is also well known for parking his silver BMW wherever he pleases, as noted here on Hoboken411.
Is Fitzsimmons heart really in this? What about Pupie?
Rumors were swirling Sunday that Jimmy Fitz might be having second thoughts about being tapped by Roberts and company to be the candidate. He may also be thinking twice because of the apparent candidacy of Frank “Pupie” Raia. The millionaire developer’s name emerged as a possible challenger as Fitzgibbons’ political doom was sealed. Pupie has run for just about every elective office in Hoboken, and currently serves on the Board of Education.
At this point the only sure thing is that Garcia Keim will file her petitions to run. Others have until the deadline late this afternoon to make their decisions, and with only about 100 signatures needed to file, more surprises could still be ahead.
Stop by after the deadline for an update!