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TOO CLOSE TO CALL: Mayor's Campaign Against Elected School Board Leading by 13 Votes

Thirteen Votes Separate YES and NO Camps with Over 6,000 Ballots Counted & Probably Hundreds More to Go
Vote No Campaign Worker
A campaign worker supporting Mayor Cahill's campaign against an elected school board breaks election law. Nat Sowinski

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Voters just might have made history in the Hub City, where the results of a hotly-contested ballot question remain too close to call a full day after the polls closed.

The question would give the city's voters the opportunity to select the city's school board for the first time in history, a power currently reserved for the mayor.

After 381 mail-in ballots were added to the election day totals, voters opposed to holding school board elections led voters who supported instituting them by a slim margin: just 13 votes.

The tally currently stands at 3,145 "yes" votes and 3,158 "no" votes, the first time the question has ever earned more than 3,000 votes.  Historically, between 40 and 45 percent of voters have supported the question when it was put to voters several times during the administration of Mayor James Cahill.

Year Yes Votes No Votes Margin % Yes
1993 1979 2,929 950 40.3%
1996 2,710 3,190 485 45.9%
1998 1,684 2,484 800 40.4%
2000 2,994 3,939 945 43.2%
2012* 3,145 3,158 13

49.9%

* denotes unofficial results

Hundreds of voters who cast provisional ballots at New Brunswick's thirteen polling stations have not yet had their votes counted.  Another 2,000 to 3,000 voters in the county requested ballots via email and fax, thanks to a special state directive in response to Hurricane Sandy.

Many of those voters have not yet received their ballots and they have until Friday to return them.  Also, additional mail-in ballots may be received and will be counted if they were postmarked by November 5, the day before the election.

"I’m not going to certify this election for days and days from now," County Clerk Elaine Flynn told the Star-Ledger today.

Middlesex County Board of Elections Administrator James Vokral said that his office could not yet say exactly how many provisional ballots had been cast in New Brunswick.  In the coming days, they will make initial judgments about whether to count the ballots based on the sealed envelopes, which include a flap where voters identify themselves by.

Vokral's office will make an initial determination whether or not to count each ballot for a variety of reasons.

On Monday and Tuesday, members of both campaigns will be permitted to evaluate the ballots in two groups, the ones the election board plans to count and the ones they plan to disqualify. 

Tuesday at 5pm, the election board will hold a public hearing at their 777 Jersey Avenue headquarters to determine which ballots are counted, after hearing arguments from both sides.  County voters who cast provisional ballots should attend the hearing to ensure their ballots are counted.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the ballots will immediately be anonymized and counted by a machine.  However, email and fax ballots will likely require a subsequent review process and public hearing, according to Vokral.

In every other race on the ballot yesterday, New Brunswick voters correctly predicted the overall outcome, overwhelmingly selecting the winners for federal and county offices, all of them Democrats.  They also overwhelmingly supported two state ballot questions, each of which were approved by New Jersey's voters.

Below are the unofficial election results for the entire city, provided today by the New Brunswick City Clerk's office:

(NOTE: The results do not include mail-in or provisional ballots, or third-party candidates for federal office.)

US PRESIDENT
Barack Obama 8,170 (winner, re-elected)
Mitt Romney 1,448

US SENATOR
Robert Menendez 7,408 (winner, re-elected)
Joe Kyrillos 1,267

US CONGRESS
Frank Pallone 7,342 (winner, re-elected)
Anna Little 1,360

MIDDLESEX COUNTY SURROGATE
Kevin Hoagland 7,101 (winner, re-elected)
Lynda Cleary 1,481

MIDDLESEX COUNTY FREEHOLDER
James Polos 6,835 (winner, re-elected)
Ron Rios 6,694 (winner, re-elected)
Roger Daley 1,279
Sam Khan 1,173
Inder Soni 7

NEW BRUNSWICK CITY COUNCIL
Elizabeth Garlatti 7,345 (winner, re-elected)
Glenn Fleming 6,800 (winner, elected to seat he was appointed to in June)
John Anderson 6,943 (winner, elected for the first time)

No other candidates were on the ballot.

STATE PUBLIC QUESTION #1 (Higher Education Bond Referendum)
Yes 5,070 (winner)
No 1,498

STATE PUBLIC QUESTION #2 (Judicial Benefits Amendment)
Yes 4,493 (winner)
No 1,592