Home>Articles>Updated counts in Trenton races expected tonight after messy board of elections meeting

Trenton City Council candidates Algernon Ward, left, and Jennifer Williams. (Photos: Algernon Ward and Jennifer Williams).

Updated counts in Trenton races expected tonight after messy board of elections meeting

Ward, Williams both express frustration with transparency of counting process

By Joey Fox, December 20 2022 11:12 am

Updated counts in two close runoffs for seats on the Trenton City Council are expected to be provided tonight, with provisional ballots and late-arriving absentee ballots added to the tally. It’s not clear precisely when the results will be available, however; Mercer County Board of Elections (BOE) officials repeatedly declined to provide a timeline at a meeting this morning.

Even once the new ballots are added, the election still won’t be certified for a little while, with the last possible date being next Friday, December 30. There is still time for cure letters to arrive, though a BOE official said that very few have come in so far, meaning they may not have much impact on the final result.

Jennifer Williams currently leads Algernon Ward by 11 votes in the North Ward, while Jenna Figueroa Kettenburg leads Damian Malave by 43 votes in the South Ward. The remaining uncounted ballots could easily change the result in the North Ward’s race; the path for a Malave victory in the South Ward, however, is very narrow.

Williams, Ward, and their respective legal teams were present at the BOE meeting this morning, where officials accepted or rejected certain absentee and provisional ballots. But observers were prevented from closely analyzing rejected ballots, and many accepted ballots weren’t shown at all, meaning that the candidates and their teams were unable to make informed challenges.

Attorneys for both sides grew increasingly frustrated throughout the meeting; Williams’ team called it one of the least transparent processes they had ever witnessed.

The end result was seemingly that 26 of 32 North Ward provisional ballots and 17 of 34 South Ward provisional ballots were accepted – but there was enough confusion about the counts that both of those tallies may be inaccurate. A number of late-arriving absentee ballots were rejected for being postmarked after Election Day, but no total tallies were provided for accepted absentee ballots.

Neither Figueroa Kettenburg nor Malave were present at the meeting, possibly an indication that the South Ward candidates believe it to be unlikely that the remaining ballots will erase Figueroa Kettenburg’s lead.

This story was updated at 1:15 p.m. on December 21; the deadline for election certification is December 30, not December 26.

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