The polls in Old Bridge will close in 75 minutes where a court-ordered do-over election in Ward 4 could be a bellwether for the fall election.
Democrat Jill DeCaro, a school board member, had ousted Republican incumbent Mark Razzoli last November by 11 votes, but Superior Court Judge Thomas Daniel McCloskey tossed the election results after determining that 27 voters received the wrong ballot and 17 of them voted.
As of 6 PM, 663 vote-by-mail ballots have been returned – 645 of them have been counted – and 777 machine votes have been cast, including 43 provisional ballots.
This is the third special election in five weeks in three municipalities that Joe Biden carried in 2020. The GOP has already won two of them – in Maywood and South Toms River.
Today’s election is a do-over of the November 2, 2021 general election.
McCloskey found the state Division of Elections at fault, saying the statewide voter database didn’t properly follow boundaries set in the 2011 ward redistricting map put voters from the odd numbered homes on one side of Cymbeline Drive in Ward 2, and the even numbered homes on the opposite side of Cymbeline Drive residing in the Ward 4.
Republicans won a February 15 election for a seat on the Maywood Borough Council. The November election had resulted in a tie.
Voters in South Toms River also went Republican in a March 15 do-over to decide the fate of a November 2020 race that ended in a tie. Extended court battles and an appellate court that seemed to be in no apparent hurry led to this seat being unfilled for more than a year.
The early elections come as Biden’s national job approvals remain under water – a Monmouth University poll released last week had Biden’s approvals at 40%-48% nationally – and a recent Rutgers-Eagleton poll had Gov. Phil Murphy’s favorables narrowly upside-down for the first time since he took office in 2018: 33%-38%. The same poll shows that 52% of New Jerseyans think the state is on the wrong track.
Razzoli had been elected as a Democrat, served as Democratic municipal chairman, and sought his party’s nomination for mayor in 2019. After the primary, Razzoli switched to the Republicans and ran against Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Ewing) for Congress in New Jersey’s 12th district.
Late last year, Razzoli entered the race to challenge State Sen. Samuel Thompson (R-Old Bridge) in the Republican primary, but later withdrew.
2021 was his first municipal campaign under his new party designation.
Attorneys for DeCaro asked the Supreme Court to hearing the case after Appellate Court Judge Carmen Messano agreed with McCloskey that some Cymbeline Drive residents have been registered in the wrong ward for several years. But the Supreme Court declined to take the case.
Middlesex County officials told the New Jersey Globe last week that they might ask the state to pay costs associated with the new election since the fault lied with them and not the county clerk.
The polls are open from 6 AM to 8 PM. Drop boxes will be open in Old Bridge and at the County Board of Elections office in East Brunswick.