Brick Township Mail-In Ballot Box Video Feed Mysteriously Goes Missing After Dems’ 2021 Narrow Victory Challenged

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A security camera peers down from the corner of the building, watching your every move. ** Note: Shallow depth of field

TOMS RIVER, NJ – Last November. in Brick Township there were three council seats up for grabs and less than 100 votes separated six candidates, including three Republicans and three Democrats after vote tallying ended. Democrats ended up taking the 2-1 split in that election, but now, concerns are being raised over a missing ballot box camera feed outside of the Brick Township Town Hall after the integrity of the election was legally challenged.

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Under state law, cameras must monitor mail-in ballot drop boxes 24/7. When Anna Lichnowski began poking around to get to the bottom of the 2021 election results in Brick, she felt something was amiss, so she began poking around and asking questions.

According to the 2020 law to permit ballot drop boxes signed by Governor Phil Murphy, “The ballot drop box must be placed at locations equipped with security cameras that allow for video surveillance of the ballot drop box 24 hours per day, 7 days per a week. Consideration must be taken as to where the camera will be mounted, and how footage will be stored. If the drop box is located at another agency’s facility or a private facility, include mounting and access requirements, as well as video surveillance and footage retention requirements in the agreement.”

Lichnowski asked the Ocean County Election Board for a copy of the town hall drop-off mail-in ballot election box video feed and at first was met with resistance by the County Election Board, headed by GOP Chairman Frank B. Holman.

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Initially, the board wanted Lichnowski to pay $4,000 for a copy of the video footage. Then they bargained her down to $3,500. After taking the board to court, the board agreed to charge her $300 for the video feed on a portable, encrypted hard drive.

A judge subsequently blocked the election board from destroying the election box video footage from the 2021 election. Under oath, the election board has certified at least two times that all the footage from all of the ballot boxes remained intact.

Lichnowski said she wasn’t having any of it, so she shifted tactics.

“I decided to shift strategies and I put the Election Board on notice for willful maladministration notice of their unconstitutional actions regarding the election footage and my lawsuit, so they are all aware of this situation, and so they know I understand our unalienable, God-given rights, which includes impartial access to our property, the election footage/records.”

Then in February, the election board said the Brick Township video was gone.

“There was a system failure of the security cameras at the Brick Township municipal building, so the surveillance footage of the drop boxes for the dates requested (11/3/21 – 11/9/21) was lost,” the Board of Elections responded. “The County camera was operated through the Brick Township system and accordingly the County could not recover that footage due to the problem with the municipal system.”

“Yet our county commissioners will still assert our elections were free and fair,” Lichnowski said. “How exactly can they claim this when they have no means to know what happened with our mail-in ballots in Brick? Forget the fact that the Election Board they oversee committed perjury by claiming the footage was preserved when it obviously wasn’t.”

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Last Wednesday, former GOP Chairman George Gilmore challenged the Ocean County Board of Commissioners to explain missing video footage.

County Administrator Carl Block said due to the quick implementation of the governor’s law, the county decided to piggy back off the Brick Township town hall’s existing surveillance video system.

“They reported they had a system wide failure of the entire building and in doing so, they lost any recordings they had,” Block said. “We were relying on them for that particular election.”

Ocean County Commissioner Virginia Haines said her board of commissioners chose the locations, seeking to use county buildings with cameras in place already, but the Brick Township town hall camera was the exception, saying the live feeds were monitored by the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department 24/7.

“Then who was checking to make sure the cameras were working properly?” Gilmore asked Haines. “That drop box was there, I don’t know how many days, did we actually have anyone checking the feed to make sure it was working?”

Carl Block blamed the Office of Ocean County Sheriff Michael Mastronardy for the responsibility of checking the election drop box feeds.

“All the cameras are wired into the overall security security system which is at the sheriff’s office,” Block said. “And they reside there.”

Block assumed the Board of Elections periodically checked the feeds.

“If the cameras were tied into the sheriff’s office, I assume there was a monitor in the sheriff’s office, where they were periodically checked?” Gilmore asked.

Block said those video feeds can also be monitored by installing an app on a computer and that the Board of Commissioners all had access to the feeds, along with the members of the Election Board.

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“I’d have to check to make sure,” Block said.

“If you want to have drop-box election, you have to make sure the cameras work,” Gilmore said. “Apparently that didn’t happen at the Brick Township location…it is significant.”

The County Commissioner’s weren’t aware whether or not the malfunction was reported to state officials, Block was uncertain if notification had been made.

County Commissioner Virginia Haines said in 2022, the Brick location will be moved to the local Ocean County Library Branch.

“The most important thing in a democracy is for people to have faith in the election process, and I’m not saying anything happened in Ocean County, but across this country, people are questioning the election process and want to make sure it’s functioning properly,” Gilmore told the board. “And obviously when you have a very close election in Brick and the drop box was outside of the muncipal building and now the video is gone, it raises questions.”

In that election, Republican Perry Albanese received 13,522 votes, but runningmates Mary Buckley and Ernest Arians each received under 13,000 votes. Less than 100 votes separated the five other candidates on the ballot.

Perry Albanese (R) 13,522
Marianna Pontoriero (D) 12,908
Heather deJong (D) 12,902
Mary Buckley (R) 12,808
Ernest Arians (R) 12,685
Derrick Ambrosino (D) 12,629