Citing government?s obligation to insure fair elections and protect taxpayers from wasteful spending, Republicans Joe McDevitt, John Bettis, and Rich Dase called on the Atlantic County Board of Chosen Freeholders to investigate the circumstances surrounding the misprinted ballots in yesterday?s primary election.
?A little common sense would have saved a lot of money,? said Joe McDevitt, the at-large freeholder candidate. ?Because of this error by the County Clerk?s office, the taxpayers had to fork over an additional $10,000.?
?This should have never happened,? said Bettis, who is running in Freeholder District 1, covering Atlantic City and Pleasantville. ?The County Clerk receives the petitions from all of the candidates and needs only to transfer the names to the ballot. We need to find out why a simple and routine procedure got screwed up.?
?The County Clerk nearly denied a candidate his constitutional right to seek office and the voters? constitutional right to make a choice and then billed the taxpayers for the mistake,? said Dase, who is running in Freeholder District 4, representing Galloway, Absecon, Brigantine and Port Republic. ?We have to make sure this does not happen again. We believe the Board of Freeholders is the best body to look closely at what happened and give the taxpayers an accounting of who?s responsible.?
The three Republicans hope the investigation will provide county taxpayers and voters with the answers as to why the ballot error happened. Regardless of the investigation of this past election, the Republicans offered one suggestion to prevent such mistakes from happening in the future.
?The County Clerk should give all candidates an opportunity to review an advance copy of the ballot before absentee and sample ballots go to print and the voting machines are programmed,? said McDevitt. ?We need to save every dime of taxpayer funds at the county level and the incompetence of the Clerk?s office here is leading to wasteful spending.?
?We understand that deadlines are tight in preparing the ballot for an election, but at least inviting the candidates to stop at the Clerk?s office to proof-read the ballot takes up a very limited amount of time,? said Bettis.
?We have to insure the integrity of the electoral process,? said Dase. ?Leaving a candidate off the ballot is an egregious mistake that can jeopardize the legitimacy of an election and deprive voters of a fair contest. My running mates and I take this situation very seriously and are offering solutions to make government work for the people.?