Home>Campaigns>Local runoff elections in New Jersey typically means dismal turnout

Patrick Council at a special election convention for the 28th district on September 9, 2022. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe).

Local runoff elections in New Jersey typically means dismal turnout

Perth Amboy, Manchester and Trenton have runoffs on December 13

By David Wildstein, December 07 2022 3:41 pm

A runoff election for U.S. Senate in Georgia on Tuesday generated a substantial 50.4% voter turnout in a contest that gained national attention and provided one party with an absolute majority.

The more than 3.5 million Georgians who voted in a December runoff is less than the nearly 4 million who voted on November 8, when turnout in an election that also included state, county and local offices was 56.9%.

But when voters in Perth Amboy, Manchester and two Trenton wards go to the polls for non-partisan municipal runoffs next week, its reasonable  to expect a much lower turnout that what was seen in Georgia.

A December 2021 runoff for the Ward C seat on the Jersey City council resulted in voter turnout of 13.7%  Even though incumbent Richard Boggiano was re-elected by a sixteen point margin, 92% of all registered voters didn’t vote for Boggiano in the runoff,, who will represent them until 2025.

A township council runoff in Hillside on the same day was roughly 8%.

In Perth Amboy, a mayoral runoff in December 2020, attracted a substantial 32% turnout, but that election was conducted entirely through vote-by-mail ballots during the pandemic.

Trenton moved their local elections from May to November this year with the hope of increasing voter turnout.

The May 2018 mayoral race attracted 9,058 voters, about 23% of those who are registered.   The June runoff generated a turnout of nearly the same: 8,848 votes was a turnout of 22%.

But in November 2022, a less competitive mayoral race that incumbent Reed Gusciora won with 71% of the vote, just 8,200 votes were cast – a decrease of 9.5%.   The total turnout in Trenton last month was 32% and there was not much of a drop-off from the top of the ticket: 8,373 Trenton voters cast ballots in the race for Congress.

Three ward council runoffs in Newark in June 2022 were also a low-turnout election.  The East Ward turnout was 16%, while turnout in the West Ward was 9% and just 7% in the South Ward.  That means Patrick Council, the South Ward Democratic chair, became a city councilman by a 43-point margin even though 95% of the registered voters in his ward didn’t vote for him in the runoff.

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