NJ Democratic Party Sues Belmar Republican Candidates, Board of Elections, Alleging Voter Suppression
The New Jersey Democratic State Committee and five Belmar residents have filed suit in Monmouth County Superior Court alleging that the Republican candidates for Mayor and Council in last year’s municipal election, as well as four of their supporters, also Belmar residents, participated in a voter suppression scheme designed to disenfranchise vote by mail voters who delivered their ballots to Freehold via messenger.
The suit, filed as amended on February 3, also alleges that Monmouth County Superintendent of Elections Hedra Siskel instructed and/or advised two of the Belmar defendants, Joy and Carmine DeSanctis to alter, amend or modify their sworn affidavits challenging the mail in ballots. Siskel is not a defendant in the suit.
The Board of Elections, a separate entity from Siskel’s office, the Superintendent of Elections, is alleged to have failed to review the Belmar defendants challenges to determine if those challenges were a voter suppression scheme prohibited by New Jersey’s election law; N.J.S.A 19:15-18.
The Belmar residents named as defendants in the suit are former Councilman James Bean, the Republican candidate for Mayor in 2014, Michael Seebeck, the Republican candidate for Borough Council, the DeSanctiss, registered Democrats who managed the Republican campaign, and unaffiliated voters Eugene and Katrina Clapis.
In addition to the New Jersey Democratic State Committee the plaintiffs are James Carpino, Judith Murray and Robert and Patricia Davis.
The plaintiffs are seeking a court finding that the Belmar Individual Defendants Bean, Seeback, the Clapiss and DeSanctiss violated N.J.S.A 19:15-18 by basing their challenges only upon the method of voting…mail-in ballots applied for by messenger and/or submitted by a bearer. They are asking the Court to find that the Board of Elections failed to take appropriate action to determine whether the Challenges constituted a voter suppression scheme. They are seeking to invalidate any and all challenges submitted by the Individual Belmar Defendants and they are seeking their legal fees.
If successful in invalidating the Challenges, the outcome of the municipal election in Belmar won’t change as incumbent Mayor Matt Doherty’s and his running mate for Council Thomas Brennan’s margins of victory exceed the number of invalidated votes.
Bean told MMM that he has not been served with the suit and that to his knowledge none of the other Belmar defendants have been either. Siskel told MMM that she has nothing to do with the suit and that she thought the Board of Elections had been served yesterday, March 3. Robin Major or the Board of Elections confirmed that the Board was served.
A copy of the suit can be found here.