SOMERVILLE, NJ - A court order issued by Superior Court Judge Yolanda Ciccone on Election Day will effectively postpone the final results of many elections in Somerset County until Wednesday, when the Board of Elections resumes counting a record number of mail in ballots – any number of which could have an impact on total vote counts in tight races on the local, county, state and federal levels.
The delay, necessitated by a record number of mail-in ballots, makes it difficult, if not impossible, for County Clerk Steve Peter to proclaim the winners of several races on Election night.
“We’re not going to be able to make a lot of calls tonight,” Peter said.
Peter issued a press release Tuesday night shortly after the polls closed to explain the impact of the court order:
"Jerry Midgette, administrator of the board of elections, sought a court order to suspend counting vote-by-mail ballots due to the overwhelming numbers received, which may total over 19,000-20,000.
“Judge Ciccone granted the request, suspending the count at 8 p.m. this evening, to be resumed tomorrow at 9 a.m. Therefore, I will not have any vote-by-mail results tonight. We will update our site as soon as we have results.”
As a result, none of the vote totals tabulated by Somerset County’s 21 municipal clerks in any of the races that were submitted to Peter Tuesday night will be finalized until sometime Wednesday, according to Peter.
‘“The number of ballots is unprecedented and they were not able to handle the volume,” Peter said. The results are tabulated by machine, he added.
“That is more than all of the ballots we sent out in 2016,” Peter said, referring to the number of vote-by-mail- ballots yet to be counted.
Judges in six other New Jersey counties issued similar orders, according to Peter, meaning residents in one-third of the state’s 21 counties – and candidates – will have to wait until Wednesday to get official word on who the winners are.
Absentee ballots and early voting ballots are considered to be part of the vote by mail total, according to Peter.