Unofficial Election Results are In; Mail-In, Provisional Count Continues
By Donald Gilpin
The counting continues, but preliminary local results show new candidate Mara Franceschi joining incumbents Betsy Baglio and Brian McDonald on the School Board and Democrats with narrow victories in the 16th legislative district races for state Assembly and state Senate.
Midnight, November 8 was the deadline to receive mail-in ballots following last Tuesday’s November 2 elections, and provisional ballots are also still being verified and tallied. Some 70,000 provisional ballots throughout the state are still to be counted, according to Republican gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli’s campaign, which refuses to concede the election to incumbent Democrat Governor Phil Murphy, who now leads by more than 2.5 percentage points.
Local results will not be official until November 19, says Mercer County Clerk Paula Sollami Covello, who will receive her final report from the Mercer County Board of Elections by that date then certify the results. Voters had the option this year of early voting in person, mail-in ballots, and the traditional in-person voting on Election Day, as poll workers worked through additional training to adapt to new voting machines and upgraded technology.
“There were very few problems,” reported Sollami-Covello. “The early voting went especially smoothly.” She pointed out that turnout in general was high, a bit lower than expected in Trenton but especially high in Hamilton, and that mail-in ballots in Mercer County accounted for about 30,000 of the total of almost 98,000 votes. She also noted that the new technology, with results tallied both digitally and on paper, ensures the reliability of the count.
“I feel more confident now that we have a paper trail,” she added. “It’s’ another back-up. People can feel more confident in the system.”
In the race for three seats on the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education, according to the latest tally, McDonald had won 4,289 votes (26.93 percent), Baglio 4003 votes (25.13 percent), and Franceschi 3,977 votes (24.97 percent), with Jeffrey Liao in fourth place with 3,658 votes (22.97 percent).
In the election for Princeton Council Democrats Eve Niedergang and Leighton Newlin were unopposed and will start their new three-year terms in January.
In New Jersey’s 16th legislative district (which includes parts of Mercer, Hunterdon, Middlesex, and Somerset counties), Democrat Andrew Zwicker with 39,419 votes (52.71 percent) has won a seat in the state Senate over Republican Michael Pappas with 35,368 votes (47.29 percent).
In the contest for two 16th district state Assembly seats, Democrats Roy Freiman, an incumbent, with 38,659 votes (26.39 percent) and Sadaf Jaffer with 37,217 votes (25.41 percent) have prevailed over Republicans Vincent Panico (35,617 votes, 24.32 percent) and Joseph Lukac (34,980 votes, 23.88 percent). Jaffer, former mayor of Montgomery Township, was the first woman of South Asian descent to serve as mayor of a New Jersey town and the first Muslim woman to serve as a mayor in the United States.
In the election for Mercer County Surrogate, Democrat incumbent Diane Gerofsky has prevailed over Republican challenger Douglas Miles by a margin of 67 percent to 33 percent, and the Democrat candidates for Board of County Commissioners Samuel Frisby, Kristin McLaughlin, and Terrance Stokes have easily outdistanced their Republican opponents Richard Balgowan, Michael Chianese, and Andrew Kotula.
On the public question of expanding sports betting to allow in-state college betting, New Jersey voters said “no” by a 57 to 43 percent margin, but voted “yes” 64 to 36 percent to allow certain organizations to use proceeds from bingo, raffles, and other games of chance for their own organizations.
On the Mercer County ballot question, voters, by a 76.5 to 23.5 percent margin, supported allowing the County to change the allocation of funds raised by the County for open space, recreation, farmland, and the Historic Trust Fund.
As the final ballots are counted, results will be available at mercercounty.org.