With votes still being counted in Trenton local races thanks to an Election Day voting machine glitch in Mercer County, Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver signed an executive order today pushing back the runoff date by a week, from December 6 to December 13.
Oliver is serving as acting governor while Gov. Phil Murphy is out of state.
The order will also impact other local runoffs in Manchester and Perth Amboy, although neither town experienced the same trouble counting votes that Trenton did.
As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, it is imperative that we give our elections officials – who have been working around the clock – the necessary time they need to effectively gather election day materials and ballots,”Oliver said. “We want to make sure every voter’s voice is heard, whether that be from in-person voting or vote-by-mail. Postponing the run-off elections will allow election officials to receive ballots and count them all before the certification date and will allow voters to vote in the manner they choose, including by mail.”
Based on the votes currently available, Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora looks to have won by a dominant margin, garnering more than 70% of the vote and easily avoiding a runoff.
Most council races, however, remain up in the air. Teska Frisby and Councilman Joe Harrison are currently over 50% in the West and East Wards, respectively, while the South and North Wards as well as three at-large seats seem to be headed to runoffs – but all of that could change as more votes are counted.
Murphy’s executive order gives the county more time to prepare for the runoff election, but it also narrows the window after the election for legal challenges. If one or more of the runoff elections is very close, any recounts or challenges that may arise could interfere with the January 1 deadline for reorganization of city government.
Trenton’s current officeholders have already overstayed their original terms by seven months; until this year, the capital city held its nonpartisan local elections in May, but when they were moved to November the incumbent officeholders had their terms extended through the end of the year.