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Sunday, May 19, 2024

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Board of Elections Reinstates More Recall Petition Signatures

By Lauren Suit

WILDWOOD — Every time you sign you sign your name do you dot the i’s and cross t’s the same way? On any given day does your John Hanncock look more like chicken scratch?
It was those variations in over 70 signatures that the county Board of Elections spent three days reviewing at the direction of Superior Court Judge Raymond Batten, following a recall petition drive to oust Mayor Ernie Troiano Jr. and Commissioner Bill Davenport.
The petitioners need 697 signatures to proceed to a recall election. The petitions the committee submitted contained 790 signatures to recall Davenport and 792 for Troiano. However, City Clerk Christopher Wood deemed a number of signatures invalid and deter-mined some did not match signatures on voter registration forms.
Batten reinstated some of the signatures that had been deemed invalid on June 17 and then asked the Board of Elections to review petitions Wood had voided due to signatures that did not match up.
In the petition to oust Troiano, on July 24 the board reinstated 36 of the initial 47 signatures that Wood deemed did not match, said Board Registrar Michael Kennedy. Eleven signatures, he said, did not match.
In Davenport’s petition, the board reinstated 31 of 39 signatures. Kennedy said eight did not match.
Kennedy noted that Wood would have had access only to the State Voter Registration System, which records scanned images of signatures.
“If the board had used only the same method to match signatures as Mr. Wood, we would have come to the same conclusion he did,” Kennedy said. “But the board has access to a number of resources that Mr. Wood would not have had.”
Kennedy said the four-member board compared the signatures with those found on voter registration cards, signature verification cards used when signatures come into question, change of address forms and the voter’s original application.
Lawyers for both sides will meet July 31 to identify precisely which names they would be contesting or defending in the upcoming trial over the petition. Batten ultimately will determine which signatures stand or fall in the trial that is set to begin Aug. 3.

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