Republican Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson said Wednesday the costs of a new election for District 3 county commissioner should not be borne by county taxpayers.
On Monday, Superior Court Judge Joseph Marczyk said 328 voters in the district — which includes parts of Hamilton and Egg Harbor townships — were disenfranchised because county Clerk Ed McGettigan sent them incorrect ballots that did not include the District 3 race but should have.
Since the margin of victory for Democrat Thelma Witherspoon, of Hamilton Township, over Republican Andrew Parker, of Egg Harbor Township, was 286 votes, Marczyk decertified her win and ruled a new election must be held.
Levinson said the state has oversight of the 21 county clerks and the county clerks oversee preparing and mailing out the ballots, suggesting the state should pay for the new election.
The District 3 Atlantic County commissioner position is likely to remain vacant for several months, after a judge decertified the election of Democrat Thelma Witherspoon on Monday because hundreds of incorrect ballots were sent to voters in the district.
“Atlantic County voters exercised their right and did as they were instructed. Through no fault of their own, the District 3 election was flawed,” Levinson said. “You may disagree about whether this was an error of the state or the county clerk, but other than those two parties, does anyone believe the burden should fall on the county taxpayers? They are the true victims in this unfortunate situation.”
McGettigan, a Democrat, has said the mistake happened because the State Voter Registration System provided his office incorrect information.
“The Democratic county clerk blames the Democratic-run state government for providing bad data while the state says the clerk should have done a thorough check of ballots rather than only a spot check,” Levinson said. “There’s a lot of finger pointing, but no one stepping up to accept responsibility.”
He said the mistake could end up costing taxpayers an estimated $100,000.