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It’s Election Day in New Jersey

The polls have been open for weeks, and votes will be counted through Thursday

By David Wildstein, May 12 2020 9:29 am

Good morning, New Jersey.

It’s Election Day in 32 municipalities across 10 counties, where as many as 729,683 New Jerseyans may cast ballots in non-partisan municipal and school board elections, a referendum, and two special elections in the state’s first election run entirely through vote-by-mail ballots.

Gov. Phil Murphy consolidated March, April and May elections into a single all-VBM contest today as a way of limiting the spread of COVID-19.

The polls are open until 8 PM,  if you want to think of it that way.

Each county has one polling location for in-person voting available to voters who need to cast a provisional ballot or have a disability and need assistance voting.

Voters have been casting their votes through VBM ballots for weeks.   In some places, counties have agreements with the U.S. Postal Service for multiple deliveries today.

Results should be ready fairly quickly when the vote closes at 8 PM.  Counting by the county boards of elections will begin early on Tuesday.  Some counties have machines that can count up to 40,000 votes per hour.

Still, the election might not be over for days in places where the results are close.

Any ballot postmarked by 8 PM will be counted if delivered to the county election office by close of business on Thursday.

This is New Jersey’s first all-VBM election and it could be a big lab experiment of what’s to come.   Murphy and his staff are still considering an all-VBM July 7 primary election, if today’s experiences show that it will work.

There have already been some hiccups: there are reports throughout the state of undelivered VBM ballots, or unsorted ballots simply left in bulk in the lobbies of apartment buildings.  Federal and state law enforcement is probing VBM ballot improprieties in the Paterson city council election.

RACES TO WATCH

* A referendum in Atlantic City will determine whether voters approve a change in the form of government that would remove a powerful, directly-elected mayor and replace the post with a  city manager.  If it passes, the July mayoral primary – candidates are already campaigning for the post – will be cancelled.  This vote was originally set for March 31.

* In Montclair, where Mayor Robert Jackson is not seeking re-election, two members of the township council are facing off: Sean Spiller, a rising star in state politics and the vice president of the New Jersey Education Association; and Renee Baskerville, a physician.  They both have council slates.

* In Orange, Mayor Dewayne Warren faces five opponents, including Councilman Christopher Jackson.  Three at-large council seats are up.

* Nutley: Twelve candidates, including four incumbents, are seeking five Town commissioner posts.  By tradition, the top vote-getter becomes the mayor.

* Belleville: Mayor Michael Melham, the VBM King, is looking to add to his council majority by replacing rival Marie Strumolo Burke with IBEW leader Carmine Mattia.  There are also races in the 2nd and 4th wards.

* Irvington: There are contested council races for three out of four ward seats, and a contest for an unexpired term on the Board of Education.

* Paterson: City council elections in six wards, where incumbents are seeking re-election.  One of them is Michael Jackson, who won statewide attention earlier this year for using an anti-Semitic slur during a council meeting.  Shahin Khalique, William McKoy, Ruby Cotton, Luiz Velez and Al Abdelaziz are also on the ballot.

* West Amwell: A court-ordered special election for one seat on the borough council that was initially set for March 31.  A judge invalidated the results of the November 2019 election after finding that the winner, Republican Lucas Lyon, did not meet the residency requirement.  Lyons, who meets it now, faces the Democrat he defeated last year, Lawrence Herman.

* Teaneck: Three township council seats are up with one incumbent running and two slates competing.  The contest could potentially flip control of the council between factions of the municipality.

* Ridgewood: Five candidates are seeking three seats, with one incumbent on the ballot.  The incumbent mayor, Ramon Hache, is running for Bergen County Freeholder.  Ridgewood and Irvington are the only municipalities with simultaneous council and school board elections today.

* Ridgefield Park: All five seats on the Township Commission are up.  Mayor George Fosdick is not seeking re-election.  He’s been mayor since 1992 and a commissioner since 1982.

* Keansburg: Three borough council candidates are running unopposed, but there is a write-in campaign going on – a challenge that may be a little easier in an all-VBM election.

* Deal: One challenger is taking on the three-candidate establishment ticket.

* Bass River: All three seats on the Board of Commissioners are up and the trio of incumbents face four challengers.

* Medford Lakes: Three of the five borough council seats are up, with six candidates competing.  Mayor Bill Fields and deputy Mayor Gary Miller are seeking re-election, but a third incumbent, Kathryn Merkh, is stepping down.

* Ocean City:  In the 3rd Ward, council vice president Anthony Wilson faces Jody Levchuk.  Candidates in the 1st, 2nd and 4th wards are unopposed, including Tomaso Rotondi, who is seeking the seat Antwan McClellan (R-Ocean City) gave up to become an assemblyman.

* Old Bridge: A special election for fire commissioner.

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