With provisional ballots tallied, the gap narrowed in the race for Westfield’s Third Ward council seat.
WESTFIELD, NJ — While most voters going to the polls Nov. 5 were able to use Union County’s new digital voting machines, 378 voters in the town filled out paper ballots, unofficial results from the Union County Clerk’s Office show.
The provisional, or paper, ballots are typically given to voters when there is a question about their eligibility to vote. The Union County Clerk’s Office explained in a statement that recent legislation mandated that more voters be given provisional ballots this year.
“The new law mandates that all voters who voted by mail for any election in 2017 and/or 2018 be sent a mail-in ballot for the 2019 general election and all future elections, even if they did not request one,” said Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi in a statement. “If voters did not wish to receive mail-in-ballots for the 2019 general election and all future elections, they had to notify the County Clerk in writing to opt out.”
Rajoppi said the nearly 13,000 voters across Union County impacted by this change were sent letters notifying them of the change. Voters wishing to opt out of receiving a mail in ballot for future elections may print, fill out and mail the form found at this link to the Union County Clerk’s Office, the address for which is listed on the forum.
By Tuesday, the provisional ballots had been counted, and the figures did not appear to have changed the outcome of the local races.
In Westfield’s Third Ward — the closest of the town’s local races — 37 voters filled out a provisional ballot in support of Democrat Jennifer Gilman and 25 filled a provisional ballot in support of Republican Mark LoGrippo, according to the Union County Clerk’s Office. The larger number of provisional ballots in support of Gilman, however, did not sway the outcome in her favor.
The gap between LoGrippo and Gilman narrowed to 64 votes, with LoGrippo bringing in 1,189 votes to Gilman’s 1,125 votes, according to the Union County Clerk’s Office. The figures include mail-in ballots.
In Westfield, voter turnout stood at 26.84% — higher than the 23.64% seen county-wide, according to Union County Clerk’s office.
Turnout was the highest in Westfield’s Third Ward, with 29.51% of voters casting ballots there, the figures show. Turnout was the lowest in Westfield’s Second Ward, where 25.1% of people registered cast a ballot, the figures show.
While the turnout is higher than what Westfield saw in 2015, the town did not see the level of voter participation that it witnessed in 2017, when Democrats ousted a longstanding Republican mayor and secured four council seats.
In 2015, 21.7% of voters cast ballots, according to the Union County Clerk’s Office results. In that race, Republicans swept the Town Council. However, in 2017 with a race for both the mayor and four Town Council seats at hand on the ballot, voter turnout in Westfield stood at 45.47%. There was also a gubernatorial race in 2017.
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