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That's a fold, not a vote! 1,200 Atlantic County ballots misread by scanner
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That's a fold, not a vote! 1,200 Atlantic County ballots misread by scanner

About 1,200 Democratic ballots have been incorrectly read by a scanning machine, the Atlantic County Board of Elections reported Thursday afternoon, and were expected to be recounted by Friday morning.

The problem is not likely to affect results in a primary election in which an estimated 45,000 ballots have been received and about 28,000 have been counted as of 2 p.m. Thursday, according to the board.

“Board staff discovered a great many overvotes, which means that someone voted for two people for the same office, in situations where they were only allowed to vote for one,” Board Chair Lynn Caterson said.

The problem was brought to the Atlantic County Democratic Committee's attention by Creed Pogue, said Chair Michael Suleiman, who then wrote a letter to the Board.

An investigation found that folds on some ballots hit voting bubbles on the “write-in” line in such a way that it caused the scanning machine to inaccurately read them as filled in by the voter.

Since the voter had voted for one of the given candidates, it threw out the vote on that line as an overvote, Caterson said.

Workers will now go over every overvoted ballot and correct the vote if only one bubble was filled in, she said.

In addition, there are still about 6,000 provisional ballots to be counted in Atlantic County, of which about 525 were voted in Atlantic City, Superintendent of Elections Maureen Bugdon said.

There are not enough provisional ballots out there to reverse the existing leads in either the 2nd Congressional District race, where Amy Kennedy has double-digit leads in all eight counties and has already been deemed the winner by her main opponents; or the Atlantic City mayoral race, where the incumbent, Marty Small Sr., had a lead of more than 1,300 votes Thursday afternoon.

People filled out paper provisional ballots if they went to the polls Tuesday. Before provisional ballots can be counted, all vote-by-mail ballots must be on hand at the Board of Elections, to be sure no provisional voters also voted by mail. If a voter voted both ways, the mail-in ballot is the one that counts.

Gov. Phil Murphy ordered that all ballots received by mail be accepted for a week after the close of polls if they were postmarked by Election Day.

Kennedy’s two closest opponents conceded to her Tuesday night shortly after the polls closed. So far in Atlantic County Kennedy has about 80% of the vote — a more than 10,000-vote lead over her next closest competitor, Brigid Callahan Harrison.

In the Atlantic City mayoral race, the latest numbers showed Small in the lead with 2,537 votes to Pamela Thomas-Fields’ 1,216 and Jimmy Whitehead’s 184. So the city’s 525 possible provisional votes do not appear to be enough to swing those results either.

Small declared victory Wednesday, but Thomas-Fields has not conceded, and a member of her team said Thursday she is waiting for all ballots to be counted.

In Atlantic and Cumberland counties and five others around the state, the New Jersey National Guard helped election officials with the election Tuesday and its aftermath, according to the Guard.

Concerns about a shortage of poll workers and volunteers due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak spurred the effort. The Guard also has helped staff nursing homes during the pandemic, said Brig. Gen. Jemal J. Beale, the adjutant general.

In Atlantic County, Guardsmen assisted in assembling provisional ballot bags and filled in for polling-station workers and volunteers, the Guard said.

NJ Primary Results 2020 as of July 13

As of 4:30 p.m. on July 13, 31,625 of an estimated 45,000 ballots cast in the July 7 primary had been counted in Atlantic County. Atlantic County numbers are updated to July 13, but not other counties.

County Race Candidate Party Votes
Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small D 3,326
Atlantic City Mayor Pamela Thomas-Fields D 1,627
Atlantic City Mayor James Whitehead D 243
Atlantic City Mayor Thomas Forkin R 403
Atlantic County Sheriff Eric Scheffler D 15,985
Atlantic County Sheriff Joseph O'Donoghue R 11,029
Atlantic County Surrogate Stephen Dicht D 12,991
Atlantic County Surrogate Levi Fox D 2,877
Atlantic County Surrogate James Curcio R 11,174
Atlantic County Freeholder Caren Fitzpatrick D 15,660
Atlantic County Freeholder Celeste Fernandez D 15,701
Atlantic County Freeholder John Risley Jr R 11,213
Atlantic County Freeholder James Toto R 10,876
Atlantic County Freholder D3 Andrew Parker R 2,187
Atlantic County Freholder D3 Thelma Witherspoon D 3,184
Barnegat Township Township Committee Alfonso Cirulli R 1,668
Barnegat Township Township Committee Joseph Marte R 1,662
Barnegat Township Township Committee Charles Cunliffe D 1,644
Barnegat Township Township Committee Peggy Houle D 1,691
Cape May County Freeholder Elizabeth Casey D 5,504
Cape May County Freeholder Brendan Sciarra D 5,285
Cape May County Freeholder Will Morey R 6,624
Cape May County Freeholder Jeffrey Pierson R 6,535
Lacey Township Township Committee Nicholas Juliano R 1,980
Lacey Township Township Committee Bill Stemmle D 1,286
Lakewood Township Committee Michael D’Elia R 4,805
Lakewood Township Committee Hector Fuentes R 4,632
Lakewood Township Committee Harold Herskowitz R 1,391
Lakewood Township Committee Ray Coles D 2,110
Lakewood Township Committee Mordy Gross D 1,977
Little Egg Harbor Township Committee Ray Gormley R 1,632
Little Egg Harbor Township Committee John Kehm R 1,603
Little Egg Harbor Township Committee Gabriel Franco D 1,273
Little Egg Harbor Township Committee Shaun Moran D 1,264
Lower Township Mayor Christopher South D 1,323
Lower Township Mayor Frank Sippel R 1,455
Middle Township Township Committee Bob Jackson D 987
Middle Township Township Committee Timothy Donohue R 1,091
Ocean County County Clerk Scott Colabella R 39,146
Ocean County County Clerk Kathy Russell D 31,413
Ocean County Freeholder Joe Vicari R 38,731
Ocean County Freeholder Helen Dela Cruz D 31,398
Ocean Township Township Committee Ken Baulderstone R 1,019
Ocean Township Township Committee Rita Kopacz D 567

Contact: 609-272-7219

mpost@pressofac.com

Twitter @MichelleBPost

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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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