What happened in two redo elections in 2020?

In 2020, Ballotpedia has identified two elections where the results have been voided and a redo election scheduled in their place: a city council election in Paterson, New Jersey, and a sheriff election in Iron County, Missouri.

A redo election, also known as a revote or special election remedy, is the process of voiding election results and holding a new election. The specific reasons for calling a redo election vary, but might include deliberate efforts to obscure the results such as electoral fraud or mistakes like a broken voting machine.

Typically, states or courts call a redo election only after an interested party—normally a candidate, voter, or election official—contests the election results. While most states have provisions describing how to handle contested elections, these provisions do not normally specify what to do if fraud or mistakes occur.

Most redo elections, like the two described below, take place at the municipal or county level. The most recent redo election for a federal office took place in 2019 in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District. The last federal redo election before that was in 1974.

Paterson, N.J., city council election

Five candidates—incumbent councilman William McKoy, Chauncey Brown, Sharrieff Bugg, Alex Mendez, and Robyn Spencer—ran in the May 12 city council election for the 3rd Ward in Paterson, New Jersey. Initial results showed Mendez defeating McKoy with 1,595 votes to McKoy’s 1,350, a 245 vote margin. A recount narrowed the margin to 240 votes. Election officials conducted the election entirely by-mail due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On June 14, McKoy contested the election results alleging absentee/mail-in electoral fraud in the form of ballots submitted on behalf of voters who later alleged they never received absentee/mail-in ballots. During the May 12 election, election officials rejected 24% of absentee/mail-in ballots in the 3rd Ward compared to 10% s.

On Aug. 16, Passaic County Superior Court Judge Ernest Caposela voided the May 12 election and ordered a redo election for Nov. 3, 2020.

Iron County, Mo., sheriff election

Incumbent Roger Medley, Ryan Burkett, Brian Matthiesen, Ben Starnes, and James Womble participated in the Aug. 4 Republican primary for sheriff in Iron County, Missouri. Burkett defeated Medley by 73 votes.

Medley contested the election, alleging the usage of incorrect ballots, a voting machine missing part of its tally tape, and violations of state law such as the mother-in-law of one candidate working as an election judge.

On Aug. 27, Iron County Circuit Judge Kelly Parker voided the election results and set a redo primary election for Sept. 22. Burkett defeated Medley in the redo primary election receiving 42% of the vote to Medley’s 27%.