Counting votes in Atlantic

Atlantic County election workers count mail-in and provisional ballots Wednesday at the Board of Elections in Mays Landing.

MAYS LANDING — After counting most of the remaining mail-in ballots Wednesday, Democrats Vince Mazzeo and John Armato increased their lead in the 2nd District Assembly race, according to the Atlantic County Board of Elections.

After all but contested mail-in ballots were counted, the totals were Mazzeo 22,364, Armato 21,090, and Republicans John Risley 20,322 and Phil Guenther 20,307.

Guenther and Risley were in the lead based on machine votes on Election Day, but the Democrats took the lead after mail-ins, and last night’s new numbers gave them an even bigger advantage.

The board then started counting about 2,100 provisional ballots Wednesday evening, and were expected to keep counting into the late evening hours.

Republican Sharon Zappia of Atlantic City’s 5th Ward, who was in the lead after machine votes, ended up behind Democrat Muhammed Anjum Zia by 75 votes Wednesday evening with 57 provisionals yet to count. Zappia is considering challenging the election.

In Northfield, it appeared Democrat Paul Utts would join City Council, as he increased his lead after also getting 30 more mail-in votes than incumbent Republican Jeff Lischin.

In Absecon’s 1st Ward, Democrat Keith Bennett moved ahead of Republican Nicholas LaRotondo, getting a total of 104 votes by mail to LaRotondo’s 56. LaRotondo had a lead of just 11 based on machine count. There are not enough provisionals to close Bennett’s lead.

Although there are about 2,100 provisional ballots in Atlantic County, not all of them were cast in the 2nd District.

Parts of Atlantic County are in the 1st District, the 8th District and the 9th District.

Provisional ballots are paper ballots used when a voter shows up at a polling place but his/her name is not in the poll book. It may be because a voter never registered, registered in a different place or was sent a mail-in ballot.

It was generally the latter in this election and last year’s, according to Board of Elections Chairwoman Lynn Caterson, because state law changed right before each to require that people who requested them in the past be sent mail-in ballots automatically.

Last year, those who requested them in 2016 automatically got them, whether they requested one or not, and this year those who requested them in 2016, 2017 or 2018 automatically got them.

In Atlantic County, almost 20,000 mail-in ballots were sent to voters, and more than 9,000 were used to cast votes.

An additional 48,000 people voted at the polls, according to the Atlantic County Clerk’s office.

Contact: 609-272-7219

Twitter @MichelleBPost

Staff Writer

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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