A New Jersey Republican is challenging an absentee ballot cast by his daughter after losing his re-election bid by three votes.
Morris County Republicans intend to file a lawsuit contesting the results of the Nov. 8 election after Mendham Township committeeman Tom Baio lost his campaign for another three-year term, in part because his own daughter voted Democratic in a ballot he placed in the mail himself, reported the Observer-Tribune.
“Like many parents driven by a sense of duty, we were wrong to advance the VBM to my daughter, Ariana,” Baio said. “My daughter did answer the call of duty and did vote by the mail-in ballot. We all need to correct this behavior. As parents, and as citizens of towns as great as Mendham, I call on all Mendham residents next year to heed this example. As shameful as it is, we need to correct this behavior. I know I will.”
County GOP chair Laura Ali accused three young Democrats of illegally casting vote-by-mail ballots from out of state, and she singled out the daughter of Morris County Democratic chair Amalia Duarte of violating state residency requirements, although her statement did not mention Baio’s daughter.
“We’ve never had a recount in a Mendham Township election, let alone this type of divisiveness,” Duarte said. “Local and county Republican operatives are trying to pit neighbor against neighbor.
“As a first-generation American, whose parents came to this country seeking political freedom, I would never try to suppress participation in elections and the democratic process,” Duarte added. “Baio owes the Township of Mendham, in particular our young people, an apology. He should immediately concede his loss to Lauren Spirig and allow the community to heal and to come together in this holiday season.”
Baio initially appeared to have lost to Spirig by two votes, but the Dec. 9 recount showed a three-vote deficit, and Ali said she had evidence that some voters did not meet the state’s eligibility requirement but declined to provide any details.
“Tom’s daughter is a Democrat and voted the Democrat ticket,” Ali said. “We had nothing to do with her vote.”
State law specifies that voters must be U.S. citizens who are at least 18 years old and live in a county for at least 30 days before an election, and Baio’s daughter is a professional journalist who lives in New York City and Duarte’s daughter is a recent college graduate who lives in Knoxville, Tennessee.
“This sends a clear message to young voters across Mendham Township that the Republican Party does not value your participation,” Duarte said. “They don’t want your input in the affairs of our township, and want to deprive them of the most fundamental right that we have in our democratic system.”