2019 New Jersey Revised Statutes
Title 19 - Elections
Section 19:53A-8 - Counting of ballots; testing of equipment
19:53A-8. Counting of ballots; testing of equipment
8. a. Prior to the start of the count of the ballots, each county board of elections shall have the automatic tabulating equipment tested to ascertain that it will accurately count the votes cast for all offices and on all measures. Public notice of the time and place of the test shall be given at least 48 hours prior thereto by publication once in three or more daily or weekly newspapers published in the county or jurisdiction where such equipment is used, if a newspaper is published therein, otherwise in a newspaper of general circulation therein; said newspapers shall be selected so as to give the widest possible notice to the voters of said county and one of said newspapers shall be the newspaper or one of the newspapers in which legal notices of the county are required to be published. The test shall be conducted by processing a preaudited group of ballot cards so punched as to record a predetermined number of valid votes for each candidate and on each measure, and shall include for each office one or more ballots which have votes in excess of the number allowed by law in order to test the ability of the automatic tabulating equipment to reject such votes. In such test a different number of valid votes shall be assigned to each candidate for an office, and for and against each measure. If any error is detected, the cause therefor shall be ascertained and corrected and an errorless count shall be made and certified to by the county board of elections before the count is started. The tabulating equipment shall pass the same test at the conclusion of the count before the election returns are approved as official. On completion of the count, the programs, test materials, and ballot cards arranged by districts shall be sealed and retained as provided for paper ballots.
b. All proceedings at the counting center shall be under the direction of the county board of elections or persons designated by it; there shall always be two persons in charge who shall not be members of the same political party; and all proceedings shall be conducted under the observation of the public, but no persons except those authorized for the purpose shall touch any ballot card or return. All persons who are engaged in processing and counting of the ballots shall be deputized and take an oath that they will faithfully perform their assigned duties. If any ballot card is damaged or defective so that it cannot properly be counted by the automatic tabulating equipment, a true duplicate copy shall be made and substituted for the damaged ballot card. All duplicate ballot cards shall be clearly labeled "duplicate," and shall bear a serial number which shall be recorded on the damaged or defective ballot card. The damaged or defective ballot card as well as the "duplicate" shall be preserved with the other ballot cards. During the count the election officer or board in charge may from time to time release unofficial returns. Upon completion of the count the official returns shall be open to the public.
c. The return of the automatic tabulating equipment, to which have been added the write-in and absentee votes, shall, after being duly certified by the county board of elections, constitute the official return of each election district.
d. If for any reason it becomes impracticable to count all or a part of the ballot cards with tabulating equipment, the county board of elections may direct that they be counted manually, following as far as practicable the provisions governing the counting of paper ballots contained in Title 19 of the Revised Statutes.
L.1973,c.82,s.8; amended 1975, c.316, s.6; 1996, c.120, s.10.