Salem freeholder election court battle ends in tie, likely vacancy

By Matt Rooney | The Save Jersey Blog

salem gop billboard

Here’s something you don’t see every single day, Save Jerseyans. At least not in a non-municipal race.

Republican Melissa DeCastro and Democrat Charles Hassler are officially tied at the end of a hard-fought freeholder Election 2015 contest that will decide whether Democrats are shut-out of the 6-person freeholder board.

How did we get here? 

DeCastro (center) sworn into office by LG Kim Guadagno.
DeCastro (center) sworn into office by LG Kim Guadagno.

Long story short, after 20 different decisions challenges to the Board of Elections and at the end of a non-jury trial before Superior Court Judge David W. Morgan on January 4th, catalyzed by Hassler filing suit, the Court ruled that 8 contested ballots – six (6) mail-in, and two (2) provisional – could be considered. The provisionals, by the way, were presented unsealed in unsealed bags.

Is this Salem or Hudson?

In any event, all of the mail-ins went for Hassler; the provisionals went one (1) for Hassler while the other was… a write-in.

Just like that, DeCastro (who was sworn onto the freeholder board last Wednesday) saw her slim 7-vote lead erased. The end result will be a vacancy to be filled by the Republican-controlled board and then, possibly, an election to fill the remainder of the unexpired term held in conjunction with the November general election. A special election is possible, too, but expensive.

DeCastro is favored to fill the seat which she’s technically held for about a week now. In the interim, the parties will be back in court tomorrow in Gloucester County (which is part of the same vicinage as Salem and neighboring Cumberland counties. Stay tuned.


2 thoughts on “Salem freeholder election court battle ends in tie, likely vacancy

  1. Apparently, Salem County has a thing for ties. In 2012, Democrat Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney tied, both receiving 14,719 votes each.

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