Coleman: Timing of special election disenfranchised voters

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Sen. Barbara Buono has been criticizing the state’s incumbent governor for weeks over the timing of yesterday’s special Senate election.

Buono has blasted Gov. Chris Christie for calling for the $12 million special election to be held just weeks ahead of the state’s regular November election. The timing, she argued, would spur voter confusion and disenfranchisement.

Now, the campaign says evidence of their criticisms is coming to fruition.

Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, Buono’s campaign chairwoman, told reporters on a conference call about hearing of “a couple of thousands” of voters who inadvertently sent both their special election and November ballots to their local polling places. According to the lawmaker, an advisory from the state’s Office of the Attorney General went out to clerks telling them to invalidate the November ballot in such cases.

“We spent $24 million to get to this point when it was totally unnecessary to do that,” said Coleman, referring to the $12 million cost of the special primary and $12 million special election.

“[Christie] feared having Lonegan at the top of his ticket and he feared having Booker at the top of our ticket,” she said. “Now, we have to make sure that people who did vote by mistake … have that [November ballot] counted.”

Buono’s campaign didn’t provide a copy of the reported AG advisory and a spokesperson with the office did not immediately respond for comment.

Coleman’s comments came on the heels of a special election where voters elected the Newark mayor to fill the Senate term of the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg.

Christie’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comments but the governor has insisted in the lead up to the special election that he chose to hold it ahead of the November race in order to fill the position as quickly as possible.

Former state Attorney General Jeff Chiesa was tapped by the Republican governor to temporarily fill the position, however, Christie said he wanted voters to decide who to fill the seat.

Coleman: Timing of special election disenfranchised voters