A challenge of the May Board of Commissioners election in Ventnor netted only one vote of the two needed to pull Albert Battaglia into a tie with Commissioner Theresa Kelly — meaning that Kelly’s election is upheld by a single vote.
Battaglia, who was defeated by Kelly for the third and final spot on the board by an original vote of 1,164 to 1,162, had challenged the exclusion of several provisional ballots by the Atlantic County Board of Elections.
Hearings last week before Judge Julio Mendez in Atlantic County Superior Court featured testimony from several of those voters, with Mendez ruling Thursday on the validity of four of them.
Kelly’s attorney, Timothy Howes, said that Mendez upheld the dismissal of three of those ballots and allowed just one to be counted.
“Therefore, I won the election by one vote,” Kelly said. “I’m very happy I’ll continue to serve the people of Ventnor.”
Howes said that “the bottom line is that the judge paid close attention, listened to a dozen witnesses, read up on the law, listened to all the arguments and ruled in Theresa Kelly’s favor. The court really, carefully considered this, and went out of its way to do its duty and carefully consider people’s right to vote.”
Howes added that those whose voter registrations were questioned in advance of last May’s election will be eligible to vote in future elections if the issues that led to their dismissals are cleared up. He also said that Battaglia could still appeal.
Battaglia deferred comment on the decision until he could meet with residents and his attorneys.
Kelly will continue to serve on the board with Battaglia’s running mates, Frank Sarno and Mayor Mike Bagnell, who defeated Kelly’s running mates John Piatt and Mike Advenacq.
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