OCEAN COUNTY, NJ — Only two of New Jersey's 21 counties have not certified their election results and have until Wednesday to do so. Ocean and Salem counties were both granted time extensions beyond the November 20 deadline.
Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order 198 the day before the county boards were expected to certify the votes. The order identifies the delay as related to the "significant" impact of COVID-19 on the staff and facilities within Ocean and Salem County Boards of Election.
The Ocean County Board of Elections added thirty people to their existing full-time staff of 67 individuals to process ballots for the November election.
Less than a week after the election, the Ocean County Board of Elections determined that 17 people in their offices tested positive for COVID-19. This resulted in a shutdown of operations on November 9th for deep cleaning of the premises and rapid testing of staff members.
Three days later, additional positive COVID-19 test results came back and the ballot counting operations shut down again. More cleaning and more testing ultimately resulted in the process stopped from November 12 until November 16.
Ballot counting operations did not resume in Ocean County until November 17, which amounted to five days of lost time.
Voter turnout according to the unofficial totals shows that over 78 percent of Ocean County's registered voters cast ballots in the 2020 General Election.
The federal, state, and county winners will likely remain the same when the votes are certified by the Ocean County Board of Elections. Some of the local races could change as the tallies continue to add up,
Beach Haven voters had a choice of six candidates for three seats. Colleen K. Lambert leads with 504 votes, followed Nancy Davis with 371, and Kristina Rutherford, with 359. Genevieve Cunningham is next in line with 300 ballots cast for her.
South Toms River has two open seats on its council. The race is extremely close with Edward Murray securing 776, followed by Sandford Ross, Jr, and George Rutzler with 772 votes each. James Calhoun is not far behind with 766 votes.
Barnegat had seven candidates running for three seats on the Board of Education. The current count shows Alicia Bivins in the lead with 5,105 ballots cast for her. Doreen Continanza follows with 4,488 and Sandra Churney, with 4,440. Christopher Sharpe is next in line with 4,250 ballots cast for him.
Two seats are open on the Brick Township Board of Education with current results showing a very tight race. Melissa Parker has the most votes with 13,528 ballots cast for her. Jessica Clayton is next in line with 12,968 votes and Michasel A. Blandina at 12,966.
Seven candidates were on the ballot for three seats on the Stafford Board of Education. Christopher Fritz secured 7,904 votes, followed by Deborah M. Lyons, with 6918 tallied for her. Patricia Formica is currently next with 5,466 and Gerald Simonelli at 5,255 total ballots.
Lisa Contessa leads the race for one of three seats open on the Toms River Board of Education, Her current total is 17,533, followed by Ashley Palmiere, 14,359 and Michele Williams, 14,226. Next in line is Ken Londregan, who secured 14,112 votes.
The 2020 Elections will be one for the memory books in many regards. Some local candidates are waiting for answers - eager to see if voters selected them to serve their communities.