Claims Voter List Managed by Republican Chair and Administrator of the Board of Elections Could Lead to “Confusion” and “Fraud”; Mistrusts His Own Party’s Election Officials He is Holding All Evidence in the GOP HQ Instead of Assisting in A Free and Fair Election
Tim Howes has been chair of the Somerset County Republicans for a whole two months, and already he’s showing that he’s more than willing to attack anyone – including fellow Somerset County Republicans -- in order to follow President Trump’s lead in attacking the 2020 election.
In a press release this weekend Howes, a well-known attorney who has represented Republican candidates at the Somerset County Board of Elections for more than a decade, slammed the Board’s election database for including voters who may have moved or died over the past couple years.
While Howes attempted to blame the state, as an election attorney he knows it is the County Boards of Elections responsibility to manage their own voter data. Blaming the state is a Trumpian attempt at misdirection to hide the fact he thinks he will lose a free and fair election.
Howes maintained in the release that mailing ballots to the list managed by the Somerset County Board of Elections “leads to confusion and tends to cast doubt on the election itself. Worst of all, it could create the opportunity for voter fraud if phantom ballots fall into unscrupulous hands.”
Astonishingly, the Somerset County Board of Elections has been chaired by Republican appointee Anthony DeCicco for almost a decade, and managed by Republican Administrator Jerry Midgette for the past 14 years. This means that for well over a decade the Somerset County Voter Database has been under the management of Republicans, yet Howes is more than willing to go after them in his fear of losing even more control over Somerset County government.
“It’s so weird how since Trump came in the old Reagan line about never attacking another Republican went out the window, and now party ‘leaders’ like Tim are happy to go after anyone who annoys them no matter how long they’ve been loyal,” said Somerset County Democratic Chair Peg Schaffer. “Watching Tim attack his own party members at the Board of Elections is like watching Trump attack John McCain and Susan Collins. It’s just weird.”
The Somerset County Board of Elections, under the leadership of Republicans DeCicco and Midgette, is responsible for most aspects of conducting the 2020 General Election during COVID-19:
Maintaining the accuracy of the Somerset County Voter Database, including determining which voters are active and inactive;
Providing this information to the statewide database to be used by the Clerk to mail 2020 ballots to all voters the Board of Elections determines are “active”;
Collecting and securing all mail-in-ballots returned via the United States Post Office, the 13 Ballot Drop Boxes in Somerset County, or handed to a poll worker at a polling place;
Verifying that ballots are valid and legitimate by checking the name, address, and signature of the voter with the records maintained by the Board of Elections; and
Counting and tabulating all votes on mail-in and provisional ballots, and reporting that information to the Somerset County Clerk.
Howes is demanding that any resident who receives a ballot misaddressed to their address give it to the Somerset County Republican Party, and has so far refused to provide these ballots to the Republican-led Board of Elections to assist in removing an inactive voter for this and future elections.
Midgette appeared in front of the Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders on September 8 and gave assurances that he and the Republican-chaired Board of Elections Commissioners and staff were ready, prepared, and committed to providing a free and fair election. It Is not clear at this time whether Howes knew of this appearance, or if he simply doesn’t trust Midgette and DeCicco to follow through on their commitments.
“I don’t know what Tim’s problem is with Jerry Midgette and Anthony DeCicco, especially since as their Republican boss he’s responsible for letting them keep their jobs,” said Schaffer. “As the Somerset GOP’s election lawyer, he’s worked with Jerry and Anthony for more than a decade and never showed concern over their voter lists before. But, hey, if he has lost faith in them and wants to discuss making a change to the leadership of the Board of Elections, I’d be happy to discuss it with him.”
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