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Atlantic County, NJ Is Withholding Election Data
Transparency and trust in government by consent are being undermined
By: Citizens for New Jersey Election Integrity
In early 2021, we requested and successfully received election records from 12 of our 21 counties. In 2022, we were able to increase that number to 16 counties. To date for the 2023 General Election, we have received records from 13 counties, with progress on-going. We are fortunate that most of our counties recognize the importance of transparency in fulfilling our OPRA requests, and we pride ourselves on having positive and professional working relationships with the custodians of records in our local county governments.
However, among those counties who have refused to provide any data, there is one leader. For well over three years, we have attempted to obtain election records from Atlantic County. In every instance, and with every request, the county deflects, makes excuses, claims they will comply, but mostly ignores our requests. When we follow up on our requests, we are directed to multiple individuals:
Our most recent requests for the election records from the November 7, 2023 General Election, submitted to Atlantic County on November 19, 2023 received the following response just 2 days later:
"The County Board of Elections does not have access to or the ability to generate the document to which you request. It is proprietary as to the company which services the scanners. Therefore, Atlantic County Board of Elections does not have any records responsive to your request."
What we find very curious about this response, is that numerous other counties in New Jersey use the same election equipment vendor (Election Systems & Software, aka "ES&S"), and we have met with no such resistance in obtaining those counties' election records. To date, we have received the November 7, 2023 election records from 6 other counties in the state who use ES&S as their election equipment vendor.
These facts lead to these questions:
Is Atlantic County telling the truth?
Has Atlantic County signed a new contract with ES&S that gives the vendor sole ownership of the election data?
How can data for our elections be taken from the citizens and withheld from the citizens?
Isn't this a violation of OPRA?
Has the county violated NJ Election Retention Laws, whereby the county is legally responsible for maintaining all records relevant to the election for a period of 24 months?
Citizens for New Jersey Election Integrity