The Union County Board of Elections must canvass 109 uncounted mail-in ballots before proceeding with a court-ordered recount in Berkeley Heights, Union County Superior Court Judge Alan Lesnewich ruled Monday.
Lesnewich ordered that recount on Nov. 24, mandating that it begin at 9 a.m. Monday morning. All 109 ballots are from Berkeley Heights.
But on Wednesday, Union County Board of Elections Administrator Nicole DiRado informed the court that election officials found 109 uncounted mail-in ballots. Of those, 102 were still inside their outer envelope. The remaining seven were inside their inner envelope.
The new ballots are just one vote shy of the margin of victory Republican challenger Jeffrey Varnerin has over Democratic Council vice president Susan Poage, whom he leads by 110 votes, 4,050-3,940.
All 109 of those ballots were approved for counting by the county’s elections board, DiRado said, and their chain of custody remains intact.
“I fully recognize the irony of the number, but I assure you this is purely coincidence. I have worked impartially and fairly with both sides of this campaign and I trust that you know this is an honest, human error,” DiRado said.
Republican incumbent Jeanne Kingsley is likely safe from the recount. She won first place with 4,160 votes. Likewise, chances are slim that the recount will do much to aid Democratic challenger Bret Sayre, who won 3,751 votes.
Attorney Scott Salmon represented Poage, while Matt Moench argued on behalf of the two Republican candidates.
Deputy Attorney General George Cohen served as counsel for the county elections board, and Union County Counsel Bruce Bergen appeared on behalf of County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi.