MENDHAM TOWNSHIP – Have Democrats gained another foothold in this traditionally Republican town?
On Tuesday, Amalia Duarte, who is both the Morris County Democratic chair and a township committeewoman, happily dispatched a message highlighting the fact that the counting of all remaining mail-in and provisional ballots had put Democrat Lauren Spirig in office.
This was no landslide.
Spirig is up by two votes. The county clerk’s office has Spirig with 1,473 votes and Republican Thomas Baio with 1,471. Another Republican, Tracey Moreen, was top vote-getter.
The township has been getting much more competitive of late with close municipal elections the rule. But until now, only Duarte has managed to break through. This year’s results will make the committee 3-2 in the Republicans’ favor come January.
But will Spirig actually make it?
Republicans are not sure.
Laura Ali, the county Republican chair, says in a statement issued Thursday that the game isn’t over yet. She notes that the election has not yet been certified and that the county GOP wants a recount.
She adds that two provisional ballots from Republicans were “questionably rejected” by the county’s Board of Elections. Just for the record, this is a group composed of two Republicans and two Democrats.
Republicans are also insisting that an overseas ballot in the GOP’s favor was opened after the elections board met, thereby reducing Spirig’s advantage to one vote.
A win by one vote means the same as a win by 1 million votes, but we’ll probably have to wait for a recount and any legal challenges before this is really over.
Ali, by the way, used Duarte’s post-election complaints to bolster the Republicans’ point that the township’s election had problems.
Duarte said last week that some voters in Mendham Township were placed in the wrong congressional district; the township, quite oddly, is split between CD-7 and CD-11. Duarte also complained about long lines and some voting machines that had the wrong slips of paper.
The statement by the Democratic chair had nothing to do with vote tabulation.
Ali’s take, however, is that Duarte was saying that the “actual voting process was unacceptably flawed.”