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The race for a seat on the Bloomfield Board of Education has ended in a tie, which could trigger a special runoff election on Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve.
Emily Smith and incumbent Benjamin Morse each have 1,749 votes and Essex County election officials plan to certify the tie sometime today.
A mandatory recount will be set for November 22.
In the event of a tied election, New Jersey law requires a special runoff election to be held 60 days after the general election.
This is easier said than done.
New Jersey election law requires votes to be on Tuesday, and mandates that vote-by-mail ballots be mailed at least 45 days before Election Day.
A December 17 special runoff would not allow VBMs to go out in time. That could force the election to be held on December 24 or December 31, although a judge might consider the challenges of the holiday calendar in setting a date, if necessary.
It’s not immediately clear if any of the ballots counted or not counted will face a court challenge. It’s also not clear whether any of the counted vote-by-mail ballots were cast by individuals who passed away prior to Election Day.
Jill Fischman (1,957) and Daniel Anderson (1,789) won two school board seats in the November 5 general election.
The last tie in Essex County came in November 1991 when Maplewood Township Committeeman Noel Siegel and Democrat Gerald Ryan received the same number of votes.
Ryan won a special runoff election. Siegel was the last Republican to hold local office in Maplewood, once an extraordinary GOP stronghold.