Vote by Mail: Battle of the Old Guard with up to 300 ballots challenged!
Rampant vote buying in mano a mano combat of Old Guard factions!
Record number of VBM ballots delivered by messenger into town: over 400
County Superintendent of Elections to decide validity of up to 300 investigated VBMs
The election feud over paper ballots is hot and heavy way with over 1,500 Vote by Mail ballots requested and just over 1,000 returned as of Saturday according to county election and campaign sources. Up to 300 are under investigation, the result of challenges between Old Guard slates as the Ramos campaign and Raia-Mason slate continue their blood feud.
A never before seen oddity according to one Ramos backer of what they described as “Beth Mason” shuttle buses from a Raia office on Jefferson Street was taking voters from the Hoboken Housing Authority to the Board of Elections location in Jersey City last week. Voting in person with the expiration of Vote by Mail applications already passed pushed that as the only option to ensure the voter is not casting a secret ballot at the polls behind the curtain. One county observer called that action a first among the exponential issues in Hoboken elections adding to the alarm of out of the norm voting activities in the Mile Square.
“When people hear you work for Hudson County in elections they always think there’s voting issues,” a county election employee said. “But it’s not Jersey City where there’s hundreds of thousands of people causing the problems – it’s Hoboken, a mile square city with only 50,000 people making most of the trouble.” The employee added greater concern saying, “It’s peeling away at the integrity of the vote…. and it’s unacceptable.”
|Reports of Vote by Mail fraud in Hoboken are rampant with a blood feud between Old Guard camps.
MSV will be investigating leads for Operation Bounty past Election Day. Contact: email@example.com
The warring over the controversial Vote by Mail paper ballots is continuing beyond the point when they reach the county election office. Up to 300 have been challenged as the Old Guard is warring to take out as many of the VBM ballots of their competing Old Guard ticket as possible. An investigation by the Superintendent of Elections will make a determination on the hundreds of challenges sometime later today.
The War of the Roses among the Old Guard is taking place in the usual areas of the Hoboken Housing Authority and affordable housing buildings with some of the usual players in years past.
Challenges to the Vote by Mail at the Hudson County Board of Election Saturday featured all three campaigns showing up to identify and weigh possible challenges to Vote by Mail activity. Over 1,500 VBM were requested in Hoboken with over 1,000 returned leaving almost a third an open issue before the polls open on Tuesday.
While the Zimmer Team departed mounting no challenges reflecting confidence in superior turnout the day of the election, the Ramos Campaign and Raia-Mason slate went “to war” as one reliable source described the proceedings.
Appearing for the Ramos campaign was council slate candidate and HHA commissioner Eduardo Gonzaelz and former Assemblyman Ramos aide and Bayonne resident Nick Calicchio. Opposing them was Raia-Mason slate campaign manager Jamie Cryan.
Each side commenced with challenges on numerous people touching possibly scandal laden paper ballots. Calicchio saw all his bearer ballots challenged and Dio Braxton and Liza Camis re: “the Church Lady” saw all their handling of ballots challenged by the Ramos campaign.
One source in the Ramos campaign expressed concerned about a late surge in the hundreds of Raia-Mason VBM ballots arriving wondering if they are “sitting on them” as the rumor of 750 paper ballots “drowned” in the confines of an Old Guard basement during Hurricane Sandy is remembered.
Although any storage of Vote by Mail would be illegal under the chain of custody rules, no one in Hoboken doubts it’s a distinct possibility. Another campaign observer believes there could be as many as several hundred ballots never returning to be accounted for in the election.
A resident in an affordable housing locale was approached by the Raia-Mason campaign to collect a slew of Vote by Mail ballots in the building and promised he would be paid $125 for each VBM he delivered. When they went out to speak to their friends and neighbors they said half had already been “intercepted” by the Ramos campaign people who were reportedly paying $75 per vote. The Raia-Mason campaign was displeased with the news and informed their wannabe captain their “campaign work” would be compensated at a reduced rate of $65 per vote.
In another affordable housing building some Ramos people approached a resident and said they would be pleased to see their support in a Vote-by-Mail ballot with cash in hand. The resident steered them away convincing them they had already voted.
All told, more than 400 Vote by Mail ballots were delivered to voters in Hoboken by messenger. Typically in a Hoboken election, messengers deliver a couple of dozen ballots making the hundreds transported an astronomical difference on par with the 2010 fourth ward special election when the Timmy Occhipinti campaign saw hundreds of VBMs out of proportion to all of Hudson County.
The hundreds of messengered ballots are likely suspects that there were “assisted” by another person when filled out. That assistance likely means the selections were already made before finding their way into the hands of the would be voter. County sources said last week a standard to consider tossing suspect ballots with multiple pens and penmanship was under consideration but it doesn’t appear to have happened.
The return trip by hand delivery called “bearers” show a huge number being delivered not by mail. Over 350 as of Saturday had been returned to the Board of Elections by a bearer. Of that total, Michele Russo, mother of Councilman Michael Russo, Nick Calicchio and George Destefano appear prominently and indicate a strong, organized effort on behalf of the Ruben Ramos campaign. (The Russo family other than Terry Castellano has endorsed Ruben Ramos.)
217 VBMs were brought in by other bearers and likely indicate the organized effort by the Raia-Mason ticket.
It remains to be seen how many bearer ballots will be arriving by the deadline. As it stands, it appears the Ramos campaign has run a successful “interception” campaign getting to Vote-by-Mail candidates in far larger numbers then some election observers thought possible.
The VBM War of the Roses may turn out to be far closer than anyone expected.
In the end, vote buying is illegal. For many parts of Hoboken however, they call it a tradition.
|In the 2010 fourth ward special election, the Timmy Occhipinti campaign really stood out.
An investigation reached the highest law enforcement body in the State, the NJ Attorney General’s Office.
To date, no action has been taken in Hoboken. Will 2013 be different?
Talking Ed Note: Hoboken clearly needs more Vote by Mail to help those benevolent humanitarians who want to buy the election. For those of you voting on the machines, take someone with you to the polls and ensure these tremendous civic citizens get their just desserts.
Last, Operation Bounty is in effect! $2,000 for standing up for the truth leading to arrest and conviction of anyone for voter fraud.