TOMS RIVER, NJ – Ocean County GOP Chairman Frank B. Holman was reportedly ecstatic down at the Ocean County Board of Elections Tuesday morning, according to insiders after learning that two Jackson men missed the filing deadline by two minutes and their petitions were rejected by the Jackson Township clerk. Jackson Residents Michael Porter and Kevin Williams submitted petitions to the township clerk, Janice Kisty, but fell short because of a rule Kisty told them, that may not have actually been a rule at all.
Holman also serves as head of the Ocean County Board of Elections and his private firm is paid by the township of Jackson for accounting services. It is in Holman’s personal financial and political interest as head of the board of elections to block the pair of men from running for office.
Now, the pair is seeking to get themselves on the November ballot because they claim the Jackson clerk told them their digitally signed and emailed nomination petitions were not sufficient and would not be counted, but the clerk may be wrong, according to Governor Phil Murphy’s Executive Order No. 132. This is the first time a nominating petition has been valid in the State of New Jersey via electronic delivery.
The change was made by Governor Phil Murphy to avoid the person-to-person contact needed to gather signatures because of COVID-19.
“Now is not the time for anyone to be going door-to-door to campaign or collect signatures for any purpose,” said Governor Murphy. “By allowing this process to move forward electronically, we can ensure that initiative and referendum campaigns proceed in a manner that protects public health.”
Kisty allegedly told the two men, both African Americans, their electronic signatures would not be counted, contrary to the intent of Murphy’s executive order and only printed and signed ballots would be accepted. The men garnered most of their signatures for the ballot through email and others in person. Due to COVID-19 restrictions and not being affiliated with any political parties to assist them in their effort, the two men have been disenfranchised and are now relying on the wording of Murphy’s executive order and voter intent to get themselves on the 2020 ballot.
“WHEREAS, Executive Order No. 120 (2020) extended the required electronic collection and submission of petitions through an online form to Independent candidates seeking direct nomination for the general election,” the executive order reads. “New Jersey citizens are presently faced with the reality that exercising their statutory right to engage in direct democracy through collecting or filling out petitions may endanger their health and safety.”
We reached out to Kisty and Ocean County Clerk Scott Collabella today and neither returned our call. The two men are now moving to challenge the decision to allow all of their petitions to be counted, including those received by email that the clerk told them would not count.
In other Jackson election news, the Jackson Republican Party is fuming over an election faux-pas committed by their club that is allowing an Orthodox Jewish man, Tzvi Herman to run unopposed for a position on the Jackson School Board. Now the club, not wanting Mr. Herman to succeed, has announced a candidate for a write-in campaign to challenge Herman’s unopposed candidacy.
So the count now is the Jackson GOP are trying to keep two African American men and a Jewish man from being able to run for office in November.