Home>Feature>Williams still wins by one vote after Trenton recount

Trenton City Councilwoman Jennifer Williams. (Photo: Jennifer Williams)

Williams still wins by one vote after Trenton recount

Two additional ballots added to count after hand tally, but results remained the same

By David Wildstein, January 14 2023 2:50 pm

Jennifer Williams gets to hold on to her North Ward seat on the Trenton City Council after prevailing in a recount of ballots cast in the December 13 runoff election by one vote.

Williams defeated Algernon Ward, Jr, 428 to 427, after a hand recount found two votes that had previously been uncounted.  Williams had defeated Ward, 427 to 426, after a final count on December 26.  The two had previously been tied in an election that attracted roughly eight percent of the total number of registered voters in the North Ward.

Ward told the New Jersey Globe that he now plans to mount a legal challenge to the election results.

“Oh my god, what a rollercoaster,” said Ward.

According to Ward, there is still one ballot left to be counted and he plans to ask a judge to order it opened.

That ballot was originally rejected by the Mercer County Board of Elections, but Ward alleges that a cure letter to repair a technical deficiency was delivered to the office of Superintendent of Elections Nathaniel Walker before the deadline, but instead sat in his office for ten days.

“That’s an interesting turn of events,” Ward said.  “We’re going to ask that the vote be counted.”

Trenton North Ward city council candidate Algernon Ward. (Photo: Algernon Ward via Facebook).

It will be up to a judge to decide if the ballot cast by voter, whose name is being withheld by the New Jersey Globe to protect his or her privacy, will be counted.

Two additional cure letters delivered to Walker’s office appear to have been lost.

If the judge agrees with Ward, and if that ballot is for Ward – there is an expectation that it might be – it could force a new election.

“Perhaps in the election that never ends, we may move to another,” Ward stated.  “God moves in mysterious ways.”

Williams issued a victory statement for the fourth time in two months.

“We have once again followed the election process to its completion, this time via my opponent’s requested recount, and have won. I am very glad to have this recount over and to get back to work for my constituents and our city as North Ward City Councilperson,” she said.  We have much work to do in order to help reduce poverty, bring jobs to the city, fix our water system, and make Trenton safer, cleaner and healthier. I have thoroughly enjoyed my first two weeks on City Council and remain honored for the opportunity to help make my hometown a better place for everyone.”

Superior Court Judge William X. Anklowitz ordered the recount on Wednesday, ten days after Williams was sworn in as a city councilwoman.  Ward had immediately filed for a recount.

Deputy Attorney General Levi Klinger-Christiansen has opposed a hand recount, saying the work was too “burdensome” for election officials.  Instead, he wanted another machine tabulation.  Klinger-Christiansen had suggested the hand recount would take eight to twelve hours; in actuality, it took a little more than five hours.

Klinger-Christiansen was a no-show at the recount, which began at 9 AM.

Williams was the top vote-getter in the November 13 non-partisan municipal election, but when no candidate topped 50%, she was forced into a runoff with Ward, a retired state employee.

The certification of Williams in time for the city’s January 1 reorganization constituted a quorum and allowed Gov. Phil Murphy to avoid having to appoint four interim city council members.

Only four of the city’s seven council seats are currently occupied, while the other three – all at-large seats – will be decided by the January 24 runoff.

City Clerk Brandon Garcia initially certified the three top finishers in the November at-large race as the winners without a runoff, but he made a critical error in calculating the majority threshold; by the time a judge ordered that a runoff be held after all, it was too late to conduct it before the city government reorganized at the beginning of 2023.

Mayor Reed Gusciora was re-elected with a landslide 71% of the vote.

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