Burlington County Board of Elections Chairman Joe Dugan told the New Jersey Globe his office should finish tallying the county’s remaining 7,000 vote-by-mail ballots by noon Wednesday.
Two-term Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-Toms River) holds a narrow 2,315 vote lead in his bid for re-election against Democrat Andy Kim. MacArthur leads 136,408 to 134,093.
Dugan said, the board will begin counting the unknown number of provisional ballots cast in the district.
They should have a total for the latter ballots sometime later today, he said, but those votes likely won’t be counted until Monday or Tuesday, as the board cannot begin counting provisional ballots until they are reviewed by George Kotch, the county’s superintendent of elections.
“Once we get that from them, it won’t take us that long to count them, but it’s going to take them a number of days to review them,” Dugan said. “We’re not going to have to be here over the weekend to count them because we won’t have them. They won’t get back to us probably until next Monday.”
The superintendent of elections checks to see if voters that cast provisional ballots are eligible to vote, meaning that officer checks if a given voter is registered in the district they cast their ballot in.
Dugan indicated that his office would work through Veteran’s day or even the weekend should Kotch return those ballots then.
“We will do what we have to do,” Dugan said.
While there currently isn’t a count of the provisional ballots, Dugan expects that number to be large.
“I shouldn’t have said huge amount. I don’t know how many we’ve got,” Dugan said. “Right now, we’re focusing on getting the mail-in ballots done. Once we get the mail in ballots done, we’ll open up those bags and find out how many provisional ballots we got, but just based on history and the number of people that voted, I’m sure there’s going to be a large number of provisionals, but I don’t have that at my disposal now.”
Dugan initially said there was a huge number of provisional ballots but walked that characterization back because his office has yet to open the district’s 40 ballot bags.
Because of a new vote-by-mail law passed by the state earlier this year that allowed voters to cast those ballots as long as they are post-marked by election day, some number of mail-in ballots will continue to come in through Thursday.
Dugan said he doesn’t expect those votes to delay the board’s ballot-counting efforts.
That’s good news for MacArthur, Kim and anxious voters in the district, who are all awaiting the results of a House race that, at the moment, is too close to call.