New Jersey Democrats Reps. Bill Pascrell and Steve Rothman — facing one another in a primary election after their districts were merged as a result of redistricting — exchanged heated accusations of dirty politics in the hours before voting got underway on Tuesday.
Rothman’s team complained about possible irregularities and had a county elections superintendent impound 2,000 absentee ballots they found suspicious. Late Monday night a judge ruled that decision went too far and ordered the ballots be counted.
Pascrell called the effort “the most pathetic thing I’ve ever seen in politics” when he went to vote Tuesday morning. His campaign manager, Justin Myers, said the effort “rings eerily similar to Republican efforts across the country to impede people’s rights to vote.”
“To deny people the right to vote, to manufacture a reason why votes are not counted, it’s worse than Jim Crow,” Pascrell said.
Rothman sought to impound the ballots after 680 postcards mailed to people who registered to vote in Passaic County (were Pascrell was running registration drives) were returned as undeliverable.
“People aren’t there. This raises serious questions about potential voter fraud by the Pascrell campaign,” said Rothman spokesman Paul Swibinski.
An internal poll showed Rothman and Pascrell in a dead heat.