TOMS RIVER: An anonymous user recently sent in this email regarding Ocean County Board of Elections accepting bids to purchase voting machines for us residents in upcoming elections. The board chose ES&S’ voting machines over Dominion, but county officials allegedly are choosing Dominion after posted campaign donations. This anonymous tip was complete with spreadsheets tracking financial transactions, along with meeting minutes of the whole process. While we generally avoid rampant speculation, the photos & documents sent in are from an OPRA (Open Public Records Act). The exact wording of the message is included below, and we want to share for everyone!

Appendix 01

>>>BEGIN MESSAGE: “***Updated to reflect that the RFP in Ocean County was posted today

Dominion Seeks $10 Million Voting Machine Contract in Ocean County.
$134,200 in Political Donations Raises Questions

The Ocean County Board of Elections is purchasing new voting machines for upcoming elections and two major voting machine companies are competing for the contract, which could be worth up to $10 million.

The two companies, Dominion Voting Systems and Elections Systems & Software (ES&S), attended multiple meetings to demonstrate their voting machines, and the professional staff from the Ocean County Board of Elections overwhelmingly recommended purchasing the voting machines from ES&S.

At a June 21, 2021 meeting, the Board of Elections Commissioners voted to purchase the ES&S voting machines, based on the recommendation of the professional staff (see meeting agenda). However, unexpected opposition by County Clerk Scott Colabella and County Administrator Carl Block has complicated and delayed the state mandated purchase of the new machines.

According to official campaign finance reports, Colabella and Block have received a combined $11,400 in campaign donations from Adam Perna and his company, Election Graphics. Perna represented Dominion at multiple meetings with the Board of Elections, including a May 4, 2021 meeting closed to the public, where the Dominion machines were demonstrated to Election Supervisors and IT staff.

In total, Perna and his company Election Graphics have donated $134,200 to currently elected Ocean County officials and administrators, including Colabella ($6,800), Block ($4,600), County Surrogate Jeffrey Moran ($13,000), County Sheriff Michael Mastronardi ($13,000) and County Commissioners ($96,800 total) Joseph Vicari, Virginia Haines, Jack Kelly, Gerry Little, and Gary Quinn.

At the June 21, 2021 Board of Elections Meeting, which was open to the public, professional staff raised concerns about the Dominion voting machines including voter privacy, the reliability of the printers, and operational complexity. The Board of Elections staff noted that the ES&S machines are superior to Dominion and easier for the voter to use. Staff also noted that the Dominion voting machine printers are typically used for a home office and the process of moving the machines in the back of a truck could result in system failures. Before each election, voting machines must be delivered from the county warehouse to every voting precinct in Ocean County.

Despite the Board of Elections decision to purchase the ES&S voting machines, Ocean County officials are now issuing a Request for Proposals (RFP), in an attempt to award the contract to Dominion, whose representatives have donated $134,200 to their campaign accounts.

On July 30, County Administrator Carl Block issued the RFP for new voting machines. The RFP omits requirements for security measures, battery backup, transportability, and ease of use for poll workers and voters. Perhaps the most notable omission is that voting machines are not required to be certified by the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), the federal agency responsible for certifying all election equipment.

The RFP process will give the Ocean County Commissioners the ultimate decision on which voting machines will be purchased, despite their apparent conflict caused by the $96,800 in campaign donations received from Dominion representative Adam Perna.

Ocean County currently uses the Sequoia Voting Systems AVC Advantage Voting Machine. These machines now need to be replaced because they are fully electronic and do not have a paper backup for each individual vote. New Jersey P.L. 2021, c. 40, signed by Governor Murphy on March 30, 2021 requires voting machines which produce a voter-verifiable paper ballot, which allows for an election audit to do a 100% match with cast ballots.”