EAST ORANGE, NJ — In the Democratic primary on Tuesday, June 6, as of 10:26 p.m., with 44 of the 48 polling places responding or 91.67 percent, East Orange City Council Chairman and 3rd Ward Councilman Ted Green became his party’s choice for mayor when he won by a commanding margin after receiving 89.32 percent of the ballots or 6,094 of the 6,823 votes cast. Challengers John Thomas Jr. and Kenwyn S. Williams received 645 votes or 9.45 percent and 74 votes or 1.08 percent of the ballots cast, respectively. There were also 10 write-in votes cast. There were 1,033 undervotes.
The race for five ward seats proved to be virtually no contest at all. In the 1st Ward, with 10 of 10 polling places responding, Christopher James ran unopposed and received 99.61 percent of the ballots cast or 1,268 votes, with just 5 write-in votes cast. There were 635 undervotes.
In the 2nd Ward, with 7 of 8 polling places responding or 87.5 percent, 2nd Ward Councilman and Council Vice Chairman Romal Bullock received 69.5 percent of the ballots or 597 of the 859 votes cast to win the contest, defeating challenger Khalfani Alleyne, who was running to become the city’s first Guyanese-American elected official and who received 30.27 percent of the ballots or 260 of the votes cast. There were also 2 write-in votes cast. There were 252 undervotes.
In the 3rd Ward, with 11 of 11 polling places responding, current Board of Education President Bergson Leneus, who is running to become the first Haitian-American elected official in East Orange history by taking over Green’s soon-to-be-vacant seat, received 93.28 percent of the ballots or 1,430 of the 1,533 votes cast to win the ward, easily defeating Jerome Black Sr., who received 6.59 percent of the ballots or 101 votes cast. There were also 2 write-in votes cast. There were 521 undervotes. Leneus is running on the Green Team in 2017 ticket, with a slate of incumbent council candidates seeking re-election, including James, Bullock, 4th Ward Councilwoman Tyshammie Cooper and 5th Ward Councilwoman Alicia Holman.
In the 4th Ward, with 5 of 8 polling places responding or 62.5 percent, Cooper ran unopposed and received 99.75 percent of the ballots or 798 of 800 votes cast, with just 2 write-in votes cast. There were 361 undervotes.
In the 5th Ward, with 11 of 11 polling places responding, Alicia Holman received 99.92 percent of the ballots or 1,121 of 1,22 votes cast, with just 1 write-in vote cast. There were 396 undervotes.
An undervote occurs when the number of choices selected by a voter in a contest is less than the minimum number allowed for that contest or when no selection is made for a single choice contest. In a contested election, an undervote can be construed as active voter dissatisfaction — a voter engaged enough to cast a vote without the willingness to give the vote to any candidate. An undervote can be intentional for purposes including protest votes, tactical voting and abstention. Alternately, undervotes can be unintentional and caused by many factors, including poor ballot design. Undervotes combined with overvotes — known as residual votes — can be an academic indicator in evaluating the accuracy of a voting system when recording voter intent.