Home>Campaigns>Update: Still a huge number of uncounted ballots — probably around 35,000 –in NJ-7

Update: Still a huge number of uncounted ballots — probably around 35,000 –in NJ-7

Malinowski leads Kean by 5,496 votes in too close to call House race

By David Wildstein, November 12 2020 11:27 pm

Correction: An adjusted number of uncounted ballots in the 7th district is closer to 36,853 after Somerset County adjusted some numbers on Friday.  It appears that the county election administrator added the total number of uncounted provisional ballots in the county to the number of uncounted vote-by-mail ballots in NJ-7, and then added the uncounted NJ-7 provisionals.  That added around 8,900 extra votes to the total uncounted tally.  Somerset has now counted the remaining vote-by-mail ballots, 4,447, and has around 5,700 provisional ballots left in the 7th.  That puts the total uncounted ballots at as many as 36,853.  The Somerset ballots counted today — 4,447 — has already been deducted.

There are as many as 50,202 ballots still uncounted in New Jersey’s 7th district congressional race, although that number could turn out to be lower if some provisional ballots are rejected by county election officials.

Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes) leads Republican challenger Thomas Kean, Jr. by 5,496 votes as of Thursday evening in a race that has shifted dramatically since election night and remains too close to call.

Nine days after the polls closed, the total number of votes cast in an election held predominately through vote-by-mail ballot still lacks clarity.  It’s also uncertain where the outstanding votes are coming from since town-by-town results are scarce – and in some cases, non-existent.

Voters returned 437,988 mail-in ballots in the 7th district, according to data obtained from the state Division of Elections.

The number reflects a massive voter turnout in what has become a nationally-watched House race between a rising-star freshman congressman and the Minority Leader of the New Jersey State Senate and son of a popular former governor.

Just including VBM ballots, turnout is at 80.4% in the 7th district.  With provisional ballots – in the unlikely event that none of the ballots are rejected — the total voter turnout could reach 82.9%, if all the ballots are valid.

So far, 400,095 votes have been counted.

Malinowski in front of Kean, 202,795 to 197,299, 50.7% to 49.3%.

There are about 37,979 vote-by-mail ballots that are still uncounted.  The number of around provisional ballots that have not yet been tabulated appears to be around 12,519, according to analysis conducted by the New Jersey Globe.

Still, there are a number of caveats that could reduce the number below 50,498 but not too much less than 37,979.

Some of these votes have already been rejected after a series of challenges, including double-counting some voters who cast in-person, provisional ballots on Election Day after they were unable to verify that their ballots were received.

These numbers also don’t include overvotes, where voters using VBMs voted for both Malinowski and Kean.  That number is expected to be minimal: in Warren, there were 18 overvotes, or .0009% of the total votes cast.

It also doesn’t take the total number of write-in votes into consideration.  At least 292 write-in votes were cast in the 7th, but those total for Union and Essex county are not immediately available.

There were no independents candidates in the race against Malinowski and Kean.

The number of voters who have been sent cure letters by election officials to correct defects in their mail-in ballots – sometimes caused by mismatched signatures – is not immediately available.

The Malinowski and Kean campaigns are already chasing cure letters from certain voters in advance of the November 18 deadline.

It’s also possible that some ballots are not yet in the Statewide Voter Registration System.

Union County only finished scanning ballots on Thursday.

The largest block of uncounted ballots – about 13,349 VBMs and approximately 5,700 provisionals – come from Somerset County.  Somerset has not released results since Monday and are expected to announce a new count on Friday.

There are around 10,536 mail-in ballots and 3,639 provisionals remaining in Union County.

Morris has roughly 8,208 uncounted vote-by-mail ballots and another 3,347 provisionals.

Hunterdon counted its provisional ballots today, and there are approximately 2,500 VBMs still left to count.

Essex and Warren counties have counted all their mail-in ballots.  There are about 500 provisional ballots in Millburn, the only Essex municipality in the 7th.  It’s not clear how many provisionals remain in Warren; there are around 2,300 countywide, but about two-thirds of the county is in the 5th district.

Still unknown are the results of the presidential election between Donald Trump and Joe Biden in NJ-7.

The 7th district had been in Republican hands from 1956 until 2018, when Malinowski unseated five-term Republican Rep. Leonard Lance by 16,200 votes.

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