May 9, 2012 at 11:58 AM
PATERSON, NJ – Anthony Davis and William McKoy still have some sweating to do. The incumbent city councilmen won re-election by narrow margins based on the votes counted Tuesday night. But those numbers didn’t include the provisional ballots that are being handled by Passaic County election officials.
The provisional ballots – which are votes that are cast on a provisional basis until officials can confirm the status of people whose registrations are in question – probably won’t be tabulated until next week, said John Currie, chairman of the Passaic County Board of Elections.
One thing Patersonians learned about elections in 2010 is that it ain’t over ‘til it’s over. The result in that year’s at-large race was changed after officials counted a box of overlooked absentee ballots at the county election offices.
Davis has a 48-vote lead in the 1st Ward, 1,084-1,036, over former school board member Pedro Rodriguez. Meanwhile, McKoy has a 99-vote advantage in the 3rd Ward, 1,472-1,373, over school board member Alex Mendez.
Exactly how many provisional ballots were cast in those two races remains unclear. Currie said that the Passaic County Superintendent of Elections Robert DeMers first has to confirm that the people who filed provisional ballots are registered voters. Cases for which there is some question about the voter’s status are then referred to the election board and its staff for a decision, Currie said.
“Even if there were say 200 provisionals, half of them may not be registered voters,’’ Currie said.
DeMers said his office's policy is not to release the number of provisional ballots until they are delievered to the Board of Elections.
Officials also have to confirm whether people who filed provisional ballots also voted elsewhere on Tuesday.
Who would file a provisional ballot? One example would be people who moved from one election district to another, but did not update their registration records. Their names would not be listed on the voter rolls for their new address, but election law allows them to file a provisional ballot so they do not become disenfranchised.
None of the four main candidates involved in the 1st and 3rd Ward races could be reached for comment Wednesday morning. Their phones all went to voice mail and in several cases their voice mail boxes were full.
Currie he doubted the outcome of either race would change. Usually, the breakdown in provisional ballots among the candidates reflects the same breakdown of regular votes that were cast, he said. DeMers agreed with that assessment.
“It’s tough to overcome a 50-vote lead,’’ Currie said.