District 4 Freeholder Race Still Undecided
County clerk: provisional ballots will be deciding factor.
Editor's Note: For an updated version of this story, click here.
Updated 11:45 a.m.
Despite a paper-thin margin of votes still separating Leonard Luciano and Joseph Chiusolo in the race for District 4 Freeholder, neither candidate has budged from their position on the results.
As of this morning, Chiusolo, the Republican deputy mayor of Cedar Grove, still trails his Democratic opponent by 230 votes, according to unofficial results on the Essex County Clerk's website.
"I'm not conceding the race. We're still in a holding pattern," Chiusolo said Wednesday.
"At this point the results are still unofficial and we don't know how many votes are missing. Until those numbers are verified or at least discussed it's all speculation."
Chiusolo said he hasn't made a decision whether he will challenge the result or ask for a recount.
Luciano, who has served as acting District 4 Freeholder since August, again declared victory in a telephone interview Wednesday morning, and said he would welcome a recount or challenge from his opponent.
"My opponent has a right to a recount if he would like one. I'm open for that," he said.
"I believe we were victorious last night. The voters have made a clear choice and we would like to just move forward so I can focus on working for the residents in the 11 towns in District 4."
The county clerk's website as of 10:20 a.m. still shows 99.25 percent of the votes tallied, with one district not accounted for. Essex County Clerk Chris Durkin said this morning that the remaining district is the result of a voting machine in Livingston's District 20, which malfunctioned the morning of Election Day and could not yet be added to the final tally.
"Each machine is programmed independently for the specific district...unless you get that cartridge from the machine, the district is not complete. We think it was early enough where there were most likely no votes cast on the machine, but we are still checking. We still have to count every vote and check the machine," he said.
Durkin said a court order required to open and inspect the results of the malfunctioning machine was in the works.
As is sometimes the case in close-call elections such as this one, provisional ballots may be the deciding factor. Durkin said if the number of provisional ballots is not enough to swing the election to Chiusolo, Luciano would be the unofficial winner until the results are certified.
Durkin said the number of provisional ballots cast would not be known until tonight, and they would not be counted until Thursday. He said he would not be able to certify the results as official until Monday, Nov. 14 since the county offices are closed Friday for Veterans Day, and said either candidate would have 15 days from Election Day, or by Nov. 23, to ask for a recount or challenge the results.
The cost of a recount would be set by a judge. Durkin said the law allows a judge to set a fee, not to exceed $25 per district, to be paid by the candidate requesting a recount. If the recount results in a change of more than 10 percent of the final difference in votes, the candidate is refunded the fee.