MAYS LANDING — Don Guardian claimed victory in the Atlantic City mayoral race Tuesday night, after the Atlantic County Board of Elections’ final unofficial vote-by-mail totals and rejected provisional ballots left an insurmountable gap between him and Mayor Lorenzo Langford.
Guardian, a Republican, said he now plans to contact about 100 supporters and assemble a transition team.
However, supporters of Democratic Mayor Lorenzo Langford refused to concede. “Oh, yeah, it’s not over,” said Wilbur Banks. “Stay tuned.”
Banks served as a challenger for Langford at Tuesday’s Atlantic County Board of Elections meeting.
The Atlantic County Board of Elections finished counting the mail-in ballots and began reviewing the county’s provisional ballots Tuesday, but had not finished the evaluation process by 8:30 p.m. Actual counting had yet to begin. The board is expected to resume its work on Wednesday.
More than 50 people packed into the former courtroom in Mays Landing’s historic courthouse complex Tuesday afternoon, thinning out as the night wore on. Langford was in attendance early in the evening.
Guardian had led by 347 votes going into Tuesday, when the board met to count the final mail-in ballots and evaluate the more than 1,200 provisional ballots cast across the county in Nov. 5’s election.
The final mail-in ballots extended Guardian’s margin to 433 votes.
There had been 518 provisional ballots cast in the resort, but the board rejected more than 100 of them Tuesday for reasons including the person wasn’t registered to vote, had received undisclosed assistance or improperly filled out the ballot.
This all appeared to boost Guardian over the finish line; Other close races, however, remained too close to call.
In Northfield, the remaining mail-in ballots left David Devine and Nick Piergiovanni apparently deadlocked at 630 votes apiece for an unexpired term on the city's governing body. There are six provisional ballots from Northfield.
Republican Assemblyman John Amodeo’s lead over his Democratic challenger, Northfield Mayor Vince Mazzeo, fell to 194, with several hundred provisional ballots to count in the 2nd Legislaative District.
“It’s looking good,” said Mazzeo, who attended Wednesday’s counting After the board finished the mail-in ballots, Maureen Gallagher-Bugdon, the county’s election superintendent, wheeled in a case with more 1,100 provisional ballots. These were cast by voters who went to the polls, but encountered problems that included residency questions and records showing the person voted with mail-in ballots.
Gallagher-Bugdon’s office had previously evaluated the ballots, separating them into groups for the board to reject or accept. The board generally followed the recommendations.
In Atlantic City, Gallagher-Bugdon said her office proposed the board reject more than 100 provisional ballots, and recommended further scrutiny of another 400.
Some provisional ballots were cast in error, Gallagher-Bugdon said. She explained that her office’s investigators found a number of voters had requested and voted with mail-in ballots. But she said the voters became confused by the special mid-October U.S. Senate election, and cast a provisional ballot at the polls.
Others failed to check whether or not they were citizens,
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