Editor's Note: This story will be updated through Nov. 23 when vote totals are certified by the New Jersey Secretary of State. Some outcomes may change as a result.
SOMERVILLE, NJ - The counting of ballots cast in the 2020 election Nov. 3 continues, with projected winners maintaining their leads in national, state and local races.
With 68.86 percent of the ballots counted - a total of 176,918 votes - these are the most up-to-date figures as provided by Steve Peter, Somerset County Clerk Friday night:
Somerset County Freeholder Brian Gallagher, former mayor of Somerville, along with running mate Brian Levine, former mayor of Franklin Township, lost their bid for reelection to Democratic challengers Paul Drake and Doug Singleterry.
Republican incumbent Frank Bruno was also unsuccessful in his bid for re-election as County Surrogate, losing to Bernice Jalloh, a Franklin Township attorney.
The Democrats' victory seals a 5-0 majority on the Freeholder board, which will be renamed the Somerset County Board of Commissioners Jan. 1.
Drake received 89,344 votes (26.78%); Singleterry, 89,159 votes (26.33%), Levine, 77,526 (23.24%) and Gallagher 77,302 (23.17%). A total of 333,567 votes have been counted in the freeholder election.
Jalloh received 90,046 votes (53.75%) to Bruno's 77,346 votes (45.39%). A total of 167,519 votes have been counted in the surrogate election.
With 61,756 ballots counted the following candidates are projected to win the three open seats on the Franklin Township Board of Education - Michael J. Smith with 13,146 votes (21.29%), William 'Bill' Grippo with 12,440 votes (20.14%), and Nishita Desai 12,220 votes (19.79%).
The following candidates received the remainder of the counted votes. Parul Patel with 11,208 votes,Thomas R. Palczewski with 4,011 votes, Karen Masters with 5,705 votes, and Devakumar Villuri with 2,586 votes.
These results are unofficial and incomplete. Peter said he expects that at least 180,000 ballots total will be counted before the vote counts are certified by Somerset County and the state of New Jersey on Nov. 23.
Not surprisingly, Joe Biden, former US vice president, won the popular vote in New Jersey, and with it, the state's 14 Electoral College votes. Historically a Democratic (blue) state, Biden and Sen. Corey Booker both won easily Tuesday night. Clifford Case is the last Republican to have been elected to the Senate in New Jersey in 1972.
Biden received 103,815 votes in Somerset County (59.48%); Trump received 67.335 votes (38.16%). A total of 174,640 votes have been counted in the presidential election in Somerset County.
Booker, a Democrat, won re-election to his second six-year term after dropping out of the Democratic presidential primary earlier this year. He defeated Republican challenger Rik Mehta, an attorney and business executive with a pharmaceutical Ph.D.by a margin of 98,721 (57.36%) in Somerset County to Mehta's 71,027 votes (41.26%). A total of 172,116 votes have been counted in the US Senate race in Somerset County.
New Jersey voters also approved the legalization of marijuana for adults over 21 years of age, becoming the 12th state to do so, but it will be months before state legislators promulgate rules to regulate production, distribution, sales and possession, which will delay a legal "high" until later in the year. Four other states also approved legalization of marijuana for personal use.
Legalization of the recreational drug was a major part of Gov. Phil Murphy's platform when he ran for governor. On Election night, he sent out a message on Twitter:
"We did it, New Jersey! Public Question #1 to legalize adult-use marijuana passed overwhelmingly tonight, a huge step forward for racial and social justice and our economy. Thank you to @NJCAN2020 and all the advocates for standing on the right side of history."
Legalization won't go into effect until Jan. 1, 2021; it is expected that each sale will be taxed at a rate of 6.625 percent a potentially lucrative revenue source for the cash-strapped state.
Other ballot questions approved included an increase in property tax benefits for veterans and postponing redrawing state legislative districts because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
There are 258,975 registered voters in Somerset County: 101,149 Independents; 90,014 Democrats, 65,262 Republicans and the balance of the remaining 2,550 are registered with minor parties.
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