An Unwanted Poll Worker Is Asked to Leave a Montgomery Township Voting Location
By Barbara A. Preston | Posted November 18, 2023
Montgomery Township police officers were called to the Princeton Elks Lodge polling location on Route 518 in Skillman for the report of an unwanted person during the November 7 general election.
The "unwanted person" was Belle Mead resident Jeffrey Grant, who told police he was an authorized poll worker for the day. A whistleblower had called the authorities asking that Grant be removed from the location because he was allegedly posing as a poll worker. According to the official police report, the Somerset County Board of Elections had no record of authorizing Grant to be a "poll worker" in Skillman for the day.
Montgomery Township Clerk Fania stated that Jeff Grant was "not an official poll worker, and he did not want to leave the area," according to the police report.
From left: Montgomery Township Borough Clerk Lisa Fania and Master Poll Worker Mark Hands speak with Montgomery police officers outside the Elks' lodge polling location in Skillman on November 7. (Photos by Barbara A. Preston)
Grant, a leader in the Central Jersey Conservative Union, is a political activist for "Parental Rights" at local school board meetings. He has recently been associated with a protest outside a Drag Queen Story Hour held at a Montgomery elementary school—to which he was denied entry. He is also suing Montgomery Mayor Devra Keenan (D) and the Montgomery Police Director for curtailing his freedom of speech at a municipal meeting.
In addition, Grant tried to gain entry to a Democratic Party meeting at the Montgomery Senior Center on September 18. This also resulted in a phone call to the local police. Grant, a registered Republican, ran for election to the NJ Senate to represent District 16. He lost in the Republican primary on June 8, 2021.
Montgomery Democratic Party leader and NJ Assemblywoman Sadaf Jaffer had called the police.
Jaffer said she "felt unsafe and uncomfortable with Grant attending the meeting." This is because Grant "is not a member of the Montgomery Democratic Organization but refused to leave our meeting" and “has a history of harassing women elected officials."
Jaffer ended the meeting to "avoid further conflict." Grant left the scene without conflict, according to the police report.
A Poll Worker or a Challenger? What is the Difference?
Master Somerset County Poll Worker Mark Hands, who drove to the scene to investigate, told police that Grant apparently presented a letter as evidence that he was assigned to be a poll worker in Skillman on November 7. However, Hands stated that the Somerset County Board of Elections did not have a record of sending Grant any such letter. Hands reported that the elections board only had listed Grant as a challenger for the Republican party.
There is a big difference between a poll worker, which is a paid position that requires training and special authorization, and a challenger.
Grant showed Montgomery police a letter, meant to serve as proof that Grant was authorized to be a poll worker at the Skillman polling location. Grant said he had started working at the poll when it opened at 5:30 am. He provided a letter to the police that he said he received from the Somerset County Board of Elections, which indicated he was permitted to be on scene.
Jeff Grant's letter appears to be from the Somerset County Board of Elections.
"The letter appeared to be authentic and indicated that Grant was permitted to work at the polling station as a district board worker on 11/7/23," according to Montgomery Police Officer Pedro Escarate. "I contacted the Somerset County Board of Elections via phone. I was advised that Grant was no longer permitted on scene. Grant was advised that he was no longer welcome at the polling station. Grant exited the premises on his own accord."
Grant did not return a phone call from The Montgomery News.
A spokesperson for the Somerset County Board of Elections confirmed to The Montgomery News that its administrators has no record of sending a letter to Grant that would have authoritized his being a poll worker in Skillman on November 7.
Jeff Grant at Run for Rotary/FunFest in the Central Jersey Conservative Union booth in April in Skillman Park.
What Does a Poll Worker Do?
Works at the polling place on Election Day from 5:15 am to at least 9 pm.
Sets up polling locations with tables, chairs, voting machines, and all voting supplies.
Aids voters needing assistance at the polling place.
Maintains order in polling locations.
New Jersey residents, in partnership with the Department of State, Division of Elections, are invited to serve as poll workers for primary and general elections. Residents must apply to serve as a poll worker, and must be a United States citizen and a resident of New Jersey.
Are a registered voter in the county in which you reside.
Are at least 16 years of age. College and high school students are encouraged to apply.
Are not running as a candidate in this election.
Must engage in a mandatory poll worker training, which is required every two years.
Grant has worked as an authorized poll worker in Montgomery Township in previous years.
What Does a Challenger Do?
A Challenger is a Poll Watcher. It is a person appointed to observe the conduct of an election on behalf of a candidate and/or political party.
The integrity of elections is a concern of all citizens and although poll watchers may represent particular candidates, political parties, or specific questions, their main interest is in the conduct of a fair and honest election.
A challenger’s role in an election was established by Title 19 of the New Jersey State Statutes.
Challengers receive a certificate to present to the board workers at the polling place and a badge to be worn at all times while in the polling place. Challengers may only challenge in the district in which he/she is appointed and certified too.
Any appointing authority, including the Somerset County Board of Elections, has the right to replace/revoke challenger certificates and badges before or on the day of an election.
Guidance on Law Enforcement Involvement in Election Activities and Protections Against Unlawful Voter Intimidation
During an era when election integrity has been questioned, primarly by a former US president who has consistently made false claims about widespread voter fraud costing him the 2020 election, NJ Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin issued updated guidance in 2022 to New Jersey’s law enforcement leaders concerning new rules about law enforcement activity relating to elections.
The guidance is designed to ensure that all eligible voters can cast their ballot safely and without fear of intimidation.
"Civilian election officials—not law enforcement officers—are in charge of administering elections at the county and local levels," Plakin says. "At the state level, the Division of Elections within the Office of the Secretary of State is entrusted with election-administration responsibilities—not the Department of Law & Public Safety or the Office of the Attorney General.
"When any officer is dispatched to a polling place, the Secretary of State shall be notified by the county board of elections or county election superintendent. The Secretary of State, county boards of election and election superintendents must maintain a record of such dispatches, including such information as time of dispatch, polling place location and reason for the dispatch, as well as the name of the officer involved, badge number, length of the officer’s presence on site and the immediate outcome of the incident."
Residents with concerns about voting and elections are encouraged to call the Division of Elections at its Voting Information & Assistance Line: 877-NJVOTER (877-658-6837). For more information, please visit the NJ Division of Elections Voter Information Portal at https://nj.gov/state/elections/vote.shtml.
What Is Voter Intimidation?
Federal law says that "no person … shall intimidate, threaten, coerce … any other person for the purpose of interfering with the right of [that] person to vote or to vote as he may choose."
Voter intimidation is rare and unlikely, according to the American Civil Liberities Union (ACLU).
"If someone is attempting to interfere with your or anyone’s right to vote, it may be voter intimidation and a violation of federal law," according to the ACLU. "Examples of intimidation may include: Aggressively questioning voters about their citizenship, criminal record, or other qualifications to vote; Falsely presenting oneself as an elections official."