The final results of the 2018 South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education election will not be known until next week — almost two weeks after election day, November 6 — according to staff at the Essex County Clerk’s office.
Provisional ballots are still be verified and counted.
With 100% of the vote other than provisional ballots counted, Shannon Cuttle and Annemarie Maini look to have an insurmountable lead in the race. However, the winner of third seat up for election this cycle (there are 9 seats overall on the Board) seems less certain, with Javier Farfan just 123 votes ahead of Narda Chisholm-Greene.
Reached via phone on Thursday, Nov. 15, Maini said that the Essex County Clerk’s Office had informed her that there were about 10,000 provisional ballots cast in all of Essex County this general election. She did not know how many of the ballots were from South Orange and Maplewood (there are 19 other municipalities including the city of Newark in Essex County). A staff member at the Clerk’s Office would not confirm that amount or provide details to Village Green.
Provisional ballots are paper ballots that are used at the polling place on election day, according to the State of New Jersey. They “come into play in New Jersey when a voter’s name is not in the poll book or has already been sent a mail-in ballot,” according to the Asbury Park Press. “A provisional ballot allows the voter to cast a vote at the polling site.”
There was a large increase in provisional ballots this year due to a law passed this summer aimed at increasing voter registration and turnout. The law had mail-in ballots sent to many residents who had requested them in past years. However, if voters showed up at the polls this year after receiving a mail-in ballot, they needed to vote by provisional ballot.
An Essex County Clerk staff member directed Village Green to call back on Monday, November 19, for final results.
New Board members will not be sworn in until January 1, 2019.