I first noticed the electoral anomalies in fourth ward, first district following my loss in the November 2013 Board of Education election. To those in the know, this was no new revelation. Word has been going around about suspicious activities at Neighborhood House for quite some time.
Nevertheless, having lost, I didn’t write about what may have costed me the election. Who wants to look like a sore loser?
Equally questionable figures and anecdotes emerged from 4-1 in this past BOE contest. Having won handily, I no longer had the sore loser dilemma. Instead, it was fatigue and relief that prevented me from tackling the subject.
But on the eve of another Plainfield election, it’s time we all look at the numbers from last November.
While hugely important locally, non-partisan Board of Education candidates are sectioned away at the bottom of the ballot as to not be thrown into the partisan mix above. For that reason, along with the lack of large scale media publicity surrounding local races, you can expect BOE candidates to get only a fraction of the votes garnered by those at the top of the ticket.
It’s impossible to know how many people voted in a school board election, as each voter can vote for one, two, or three candidates. If three candidates get thirty votes a piece in a district, all we know is that there are between thirty and ninety voters. This represents a huge difference.
We can, however, judge participation by gauging the votes received by the top vote getter in any district to those received in the race that tops the ticket. If the district leader has fifty votes, we know for sure that it represents fifty voters.
Below is every district in Plainfield followed by its BOE 2014 leading vote-getter and the percentage of votes they received compared to the total number of votes cast in the Senatorial election at the top of the ticket.
1-1 – Carletta Jeffers – 26%
1-2 – Norman Ortega – 30%
1-3 – Norman Ortega – 17%
1-4 – Tania Center – 32%
1-5 – David Rutherford – 22%
1-6 – David Rutherford – 27%
1-7 – Tania Center – 23%
1-8 – Michael Horn – 29%
2-1 – Carletta Jeffers – 20%
2-2 – Carletta Jeffers – 37%
2-3 – Michael Horn – 39%
2-4 – Rutherford/Bellamy – 38%
2-5 – Carletta Jeffers – 40%
2-6 – David Rutherford – 39%
2-7 – Terrence Bellamy – 41%
2-8 – David Rutherford – 38%
2-9 – David Rutherford – 43%
2-10 – David Rutherford – 42%
2-11 – David Rutherford – 27%
3-1 – David Rutherford – 30%
3-2 – David Rutherford – 32%
3-3 – Carletta Jeffers – 26%
3-4 – David Rutherford – 30%
3-5 – David Rutherford – 52%
3-6 – David Rutherford – 45%
3-7 – David Rutherford – 38%
3-8 – David Rutherford – 36%
3-9 – Carletta Jeffers – 40%
3-10 – David Rutherford – 30%
4-1 – Tania Center – 66%
4-2 – Carletta Jeffers – 25%
4-3 – Bellamy/Horn – 25%
4-4 – Tania Center – 32%
4-5 – Carletta Jeffers – 31%
From the numbers above, it’s clear that even the top vote-getters in a BOE race don’t come close to the candidates of the top of the ticket. Aside from 4-1 (we’ll get there in a second), the only time any candidate received more than 50% of the Senatorial votes cast was me in the district where I was raised, 3-5.
If Tania Center capturing an unprecedented 66% of the number of Senatorial votes cast in 4-1 does not raise your eyebrows, how the rest of us fared will.
Results – Fourth Ward – District One
Tania Center – 148
Norman Ortega – 144
Michael Horn – 142
Carletta Jeffers – 33
Terrence Bellamy – 23
Dorien Hurtt – 21
David Rutherford – 20
That means the Horn, Ortega, Center slate, (none of whom live in or near 4-1, if you were wondering) all got around two thirds of the votes cast, good enough for a 6:1 edge against our Rutherford, Jeffers, Bellamy team. Even in perhaps our best district as a team, 2-9, we won by a 3:1 margin – only half as strong. Normally 2:1 is rare, and is considered a huge victory, anywhere.
Let’s not forget that School Board races are city-wide, and that candidates campaign everywhere. Perhaps our team didn’t do as well in the fourth ward overall. Not so, according to neighboring districts.
Results – Fourth Ward, excluding 4-1
Carletta Jeffers – 230
Michael Horn – 227
Tania Center – 222
David Rutherford – 219
Terrence Bellamy – 217
Norman Ortega – 216
Dorien Hurtt – 172
When you exclude the suspicious numbers in the first district, the fourth was by far the most even ward for the top six candidates, with only fourteen votes separating first and sixth. The unprecedented contrasts exist in 4-1 alone.
Update: An earlier version of this story indicated right here that 4-2 also votes at Neighborhood House. This is not the case. Writing very late yesterday I confused Plainfield’s voting locations.
Keep in mind that Elmwood Gardens closed down two years ago, and so many of its voters no longer live in the first district.
If at this point it’s not clear to you that there is something strange going on at Neighborhood House, I don’t think there’s much more I can say, aside from pointing out that a City Councilor was observed repeatedly inside said polling place throughout the day, with Horn, Ortega, and Center literature in his or her hands. I, for one, believe the severity of these numbers and their concentration in only one district point to electoral infractions at least that serious.
In short, anyone running in an election in Plainfield should be vigilant in the fourth ward, first district when it comes to the powers that be in our city. The county clearly won’t do it for you.
Click here for the entire BOE election 2014 by district, or here for the city as a whole.
5 thoughts on “Not afraid to steal elections”
very interesting and informative
This is very revealing, and you’re right not to expect anything from the county. Not when the administrator (Dennis Scott Kobitz) of the county Board of Elections is the brother of one of Jerry Green’s key political operatives, Arthur Kobitz. As first reported by Dottie Gutenkauf, the latter Kobitz resides at the address tied to the trash mailings of the mysterious “Union County’s Committee”. He is also the treasurer of the Mirabella, Jalloh & Bergen freeholder campaign committee. I’d bring your findings to the attention of state and federal authorities. The political rot that Green peddles is simply extraordinary. If he were a quarter as good a legislator and visionary as he is a manipulative ,destructive political boss, Plainfield would be a far different and better place.
No you actually cant go by what the top voters get especially when you compare a Federal state municipal and school board elections. For one your sample size is way too small you would atleast need to use 4 or 5 previous school board elections to begin to gage what turnout should look like and even that isnt guaranteed to work. Aberrations in turnout occur every year in every election.
There are so many factors that you are overlooking as to why someone could get a certain turnout in a specific district. From ballot confusion. Some people walk in and vote the top of the ticket and then leave. People often dont vote the whole ticket in school board elections. A specific candidate could live in that area and know his or her neighbors. It could have been a district that said candidate could have focused on heavily because of demographics etc. maybe there was a strong vote by mail push we dont really know.
Could you be on to something anything is possible but I doubt it. in order to do something like what you are implying youd have to see a spike at a specific time of voting probably late in the day which probably didnt happen in this case.
Thank you for this very insightful and informative article. I encourage you do forward your information the State Comptroller’s office.