Thirteen days after Election Day, New Jersey still lacks absolute clarity regarding the number of uncounted ballots in New Jersey’s 7th district, where just 4,549 votes separate Democratic Rep. Tom Malinoski (D-Ringoes) and his Republican challenger, Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean, Jr. (R-Westfield).
The New Jersey Globe estimates that there are still between 15,000 to 25,000 uncounted votes, but does so without absolute confidence based on reports from election officials in six counties.
Provisional ballots will not all be counted after defects – including those whose votes were already recorded through mail-in ballots – are removed from the final number tabulated.
There is an unspecified number of outstanding cure letters to repair ballot defects.
There are about 3,347 provisionals still uncounted in Morris, where Kean is ahead 53.3% to 46.7%. But 20% of those ballots come from Dover, where Malinowski is currently leading Kean with 79.9% of the ballots already counted.
If the outstanding provisions were to break the same way as the vote-by-mail ballots and other ballots already counted, it could mean that Kean might pick up just 221 more votes in Morris over Malinowski.
Somerset has about 9,000 provisional ballots and around 4,000 vote-by-mail ballots still uncounted, but those numbers are countywide. It’s not clear how many of them are in the 7th district. The 4,000 VBMs are going to be counted by hand.
The New Jersey Globe is told that about one-third of the provisionals are from Franklin Township, which sits in the next-door 12th district. One estimation is that there are 5,700 uncounted provisional ballots from the 7th, after some ballots from smaller towns represented by Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman are deducted from the total.
Somerset does not have a handle on the number of remaining VBMs coming from the 7th.
Hunterdon has no more 2,500 mail-in ballots left to count. This is a raw, high-end number, since it doesn’t include rejected and cured ballot. The NJ Globe has learned that these votes will not be counted until Thursday morning.
Kean leads Malinowski in Hunterdon by a 55.8% to 44.2% margin so far. Assuming current trends – which is Kean would come out of Hunterdon up another 290 votes.
In Warren County, there are approximately 500 to 1,100 provisional ballots remaining, plus cures. Kean is winning Warren by a 57.1% to 43.9% spread. That might allow Kean to gain 72 to 156 votes there if they wind up following the current trend.
There are 500 provisional ballots still to be tallied in Millburn, the only Essex municipality in the 7th. Malinowski already leads Kean in Millburn by a 2-1 margin, 66.5% to 33.5%; if the count follows the current trend there, Malinowski could add 167 votes.
But the biggest unsettled number is in Union County, where different officials have divergent views on the total number of uncounted provisional ballots. The most common projection is about 18,000 provisionals remaining countywide, without any exact total on just the 7th district municipalities.
Only as a guideline, of the 234,368 votes counted so far in Union, about 45.2% of them come from the 7th district.
If that trend were to continue – there is no evidence that it will – it would hypothetically leave abut 8,136 ballots remaining in the Malinowski vs. Kean race. That number could also be closer to 5,000 votes, if splits in Union Township and Scotch Plains were not taken into consideration.