November 4, 2020

The Votes Are In; the Counting Continues

By Donald Gilpin

The voting for Election 2020 is over, but the counting, which started ten days ago with many mail-in ballots already received, continues. By 8 p.m. last night, Tuesday, November 3, all ballots in Mercer County had been cast in the 2020 General Election.

Whether mailed to the Mercer County Board of Elections or placed in drop boxes at the Princeton Municipal Center and throughout the County or delivered directly to a polling place or filled out at the polls on a provisional ballot, the votes came in in record numbers, according to Mercer County Clerk Paula Sollami Covello in a phone conversation shortly before press time Tuesday.

Covello stated that the Mercer County Board of Elections would be counting for at least another week, but that her office would report preliminary numbers on their website at last night after the polls closed, then again on Wednesday, November 4, on Friday, November 6, and probably on Tuesday and Thursday next week.

Based on the number of mail-in ballots already received, Covello expected about 70 percent of the vote to be in and counted by last night. She noted the unusual number of people who voted in Mercer County. “I thought 2008 was a huge turnout. I was clerk then and what a huge turnout we had. But this may surpass it.”

It is not clear when final results will be declared in the state, but final vote counts in all races will not be available for at least another week, as the Board of Elections will continue to accept ballots that arrive in the mail  through November 10, as long as they are postmarked by 8 p.m. November 3. The counting of provisional ballots and other ballots filed on Election Day will not begin until November 10, after all the mail-in ballots have been counted. November 20 is officially the last day to count ballots in the state, and on November 23 the results will be certified by the county clerk.

In Princeton eight candidates — incumbents Beth Behrend and Michele Tuck-Ponder and challengers Adam Bierman, Hendricks Davis, Jean Durbin, Bill Hare, Paul Johnson, and Karen Lemon — are contending for three positions, three-year terms, on the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education.  Mark Freda is running unopposed for Princeton mayor, and incumbents David Cohen and Leticia Fraga are running unopposed for two seats on Princeton Council.

On the national scene, with disruptions anticipated at the polls and additional controversy surrounding the counting of the ballots, law enforcement and security officials have been on alert, but both Covello and Princeton Municipal Clerk Delores Williams reported “smooth sailing” at the polls in Princeton and throughout the County as of mid-afternoon on Tuesday.

“I think it all went smoothly,” Covello said, “and I feel good about how we managed to perform our required duties in this election. It has not been an easy task and it is a major job for the Board of Elections (BOE) to count all  these ballots. The operation is enormous. They have many people at the BOE office — Democrats, Republicans, and unaffiliated — checking signatures and running the ballots through scanners. It’s a big operation and it’s going well under the circumstances.”