New Jersey Democrat Governor Phil Murphy was elected to his second term in office in a close race with Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli on Tuesday. Up until 6:30 p.m. Wednesday the race between the two candidates was too close to call.
This changed when around 6:30 p.m. the Associated Press, with 90 percent of the vote in, called the race. At one time during the tallying Ciattarelli was slightly ahead of Murphy and later Murphy was ahead of him by a small margin. During the announcement of Murphy’s win it was said that the bulk of the votes yet to be counted were in Democrat strongholds.
Passaic County Commissioners
Only a few hundred Democrat votes in the County Commissioners (formerly known as the Board of Chosen Freeholders) appeared to put the Republicans on top of the winning votes to take the Democrat incumbents out of office. The commissioners represent the 16 municipalities of Passaic County including West Milford.
If the numbers hold, the new Republican Commissioners will be William Marsala (48,168), Nicolino Gallo (48,782), and Lucy Ann Riviera (48,212). Democrats who would be leaving are Cassandra Lazzara (47,921) and John Bartlett (47,029), long-time board members, and Assad Akhter (45,975).
Township of West Milford
In the Township of West Milford Republican incumbents Marilyn Lichtenberg (6,461) and Ada Erik (6,111) easily took back their longtime seats with their lone Democrat opponent William A. Santos polling 2,674 votes.
Republicans leading in local Senate races
Statewide the early figures indicated that four Republicans beat out three Democrats in the state race for Senate seats. Also reported was that Republicans were victorious in the 26th, 38th, 39th and 40th districts in the long time “blue state.”
West Milford school board incumbent candidates who retained their board seats are Kate Romeo (3,402), Teresa L. Dwyer (3,461) joined by Claire Lockwood (,3187). Defeated were challengers Kimberly Landolfi (2,560), Henrietta Shafer (2,387) and Tammy Sloan (2,297).
Voting machine issues
Some problems with new voting machines being used for the first time in West Milford were reported. The machines, requiring paper ballots after digital choices are made, did not have sufficient paper to print the ballots as required, keeping some voters from completing the process to vote. Problems surfaced at Apshawa and Oak Ridge polling places. Some people waited in long lines to vote, while sufficient paper ballots were delivered for the machines. A township official told those affected to go to a different polling place to cast provisional ballots.
In Essex County there were 56 districts where votes could not be counted until later in the week. In districts where poll workers were unable to report results the machines were impounded until they are released by a judge and the clerk tallies results.
The ACLU of New Jersey and the League of Women Voters filed a lawsuit to extend the voting hours where problems had delayed voting as a result of wi-fi and software problems surfacing but a judge denied the request.