A local Republican elected officeholder from New Jersey is looking to throw out the absentee ballot of his daughter who voted for his Democratic opponent, according to a recent report.
On Friday, the Observer-Tribune reported that Tom Baio, an incumbent member of New Jersey’s Mendham township committee, lost his bid by three votes to Laura Spirig, his Democratic challenger during the 8 November midterm elections.
The local Republican party of Morris county, New Jersey, which contains Mendham, is planning to file a lawsuit in an attempts to challenge the election result, according to the Observer-Tribune. The committee claims that several young Democrats who voted via mail-in ballots failed to meet the state’s residency requirements, affecting the outcome of a race that Baio lost by three votes.
Baio had lost by two votes before a recount.
In a statement to the outlet, he revealed that one of the voters who allegedly did not meet those residency requirements is his daughter, a New York City-based journalist. Baio said his daughter voted Democratic during the election.
“Like many parents driven by a sense of duty, we were wrong to advance the [vote-by-mail] to my daughter, Ariana,” he told the outlet. “My daughter did answer the call of duty and did vote by the mail-in ballot.
“We all need to correct this behavior,” Baio’s statement added. “As parents, and as citizens of towns as great as Mendham, I call on all Mendham residents next year to heed this example. As shameful as it is, we need to correct this behavior. I know I will.”
The Morris county Republican committee chairperson Laura Ali told the Observer-Tribune in a statement that there was “a large and growing number of vote-by-mail ballots filed by Democrat voters who do not appear to meet the residency requirement for voting in Mendham township”.
Ali’s statement didn’t mention Baio’s daughter. But the outlet did quote her from an email she sent Thursday saying: “Tom’s daughter is a Democrat and voted the Democrat ticket. We had nothing to do with her vote.”
Nevertheless, the Observer-Tribune reported, Ali did identify another Democratic voter in her statement whom she alleges lives in Knoxville, Tennessee, and did not meet the residency requirement: the daughter of township committee member Amalia Duarte, who is also the chairperson of the local Democratic party.
“It is deeply concerning that my Democrat counterpart was more concerned about electing a political ally than protecting the integrity of our elections and honoring the collective voice of her community,” Ali said of Duarte.
Duarte pushed back against Ali, telling the outlet: “We’ve never had a recount in a Mendham Township election, let alone this type of divisiveness … Local and county Republican operatives are trying to pit neighbor against neighbor.”
Duarte described herself “as a first-generation American, whose parents came to this country seeking political freedom”.
“I would never try to suppress participation in elections and the democratic process,” she added, saying Baio owes Mendham an apology and should concede to Spirig to allow for community healing ahead of the December holiday season.
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