Democratic State Assembly candidate Andrew Zwicker’s lead over incumbent Republican Donna Simon in the 16th District race increased to 60 votes after provisional ballots in three counties were reviewed and tallied on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Provisional ballots in Middlesex County still need to be counted, but only 51 ballots remain, making it impossible for Simon to pull ahead. Simon could still call for a recount, however. As of noon she had not conceded.
Zwicker, a Princeton resident and physicist at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. gained 10 more votes in Hunterdon County on Wednesday, Nov. 4, and another 28 votes in Mercer County on Nov. 5, widening his lead to 67 votes. On Friday morning, Simon picked up 7 votes in Somerset County.
On election night, Zwicker was ahead of Simon by only 29 votes. Earlier in the evening it appeared as if he had lost, and he and his running mate, Maureen Vella, conceded.
A provisional ballot is used to record a vote when there are questions about a given voter’s eligibility. A provisional ballot would be cast, for example, when the voter’s name does not appear on the electoral roll for the given precinct.
Sealed provisional ballots are counted by county election boards. The next step is for the ballots to be verified to see if the voter is registered in the voting district where it was cast and that the voter met residency requirements. Each ballot is accepted or rejected. Candidates can challenge the acceptance of a ballot. The accepted ballots are then opened and counted.
Republican incumbent Jack Ciattarelli was the top vote-getter in the race for two seats, with 16,526 votes.
The 16th District includes four counties: Mercer, Somerset, Hunterdon and part of Middlesex. The district was redrawn in 2011. Previously Princeton was in the 15th District, a Democratic stronghold. Hunterdon and Somerset counties are Republican strongholds. Ciattarelli and Simon won those counties. Zwicker and Vella dominated in Princeton and South Brunswick.