A total of 33 voting machines, mostly for polling stations in Newark’s predominantly Black Central, South and West Wards, were not delivered before the polling stations opened at 6 a.m. this morning.
It’s not clear when they finally arrived this morning.
“My understanding is that they were delivered,” said Patty Spango, Essex County’s new election officer.
But Spango refused to answer questions about the nature of the delays.
“No comment,” she said before hanging up.
The New Jersey Globe learned that Spango was aware of the problem at around 10:00 p.m. Monday, but was unable to resolve the problem in the eight hours between finding 33 voting machines missed and the polls opened.
Instead, voters used makeshift paper ballots.
Newark-based Brantley Bros. Moving & Storage has been contracted to deliver voting machines from its Belleville warehouse to polling stations across Essex County.
The company decided to start with locations farthest from their location and work their way back to Newark. They ended up with 33 undelivered machines last night before drivers went home and resumed deliveries after 6 a.m.
Isaac (Ike) King, the owner of Brantley Bros., told the New Jersey Globe that his trucks were closed in some locations. He also said that Spango’s office gave them incorrect contact information in some cases.
King acknowledged that two voting machines remained on his truck overnight and were not returned to the voting machine warehouse.
“Unfortunately, there were 23 polling stations where the delivery of voting machines was delayed and the machines were not available when the polling stations opened at 6 a.m.,” said Spango. “The voters were given the opportunity to cast their vote with provisional ballot papers, which is standard in the event of problems with the voting machines.”
A superior court judge has been asked to keep polling stations open late, Spango said.
“We support polling stations opening past 8 p.m. to ensure that every registered voter has the opportunity to exercise their right to vote and abide by the court’s judgment,” said Spango. “After the election, we will review our election plans and make changes so that such a situation does not repeat itself.”
In independent news, Dominion Voting Systems did not provide remote card readers for new voting machines that went live in Essex County today.
There are only five readers available for today’s area code, and they are in use in Essex’s largest communities.
The result introduces a delay in uploading the results to the system as the voting machine cartridges must be personally delivered to Newark for the votes to be counted.
Spango, a past president of the West Orange Council, was appointed to the post earlier this year to replace Edna Baugh, a Republican who retired after the 2020 election. Before that she was deputy caretaker.
Spango, a two-year councilor, has been a long-time actor in democratic politics. His son, James Spango, is Mayor of Roseland and chief of the Essex County Sheriff’s Department. She is the former owner of Starlite Pizza in West Orange.
This story was updated at 2:29 PM and 4:57 PM.