NORTHFIELD, N.J. Day Two of the voting machine recheck of the Second District legislative race wrapped up with the two affected Assembly candidates anxiously awaiting the start of the hand count of 7,500 mail-in and provisional ballots.
That process is expected to start sometime Friday at the Board of Elections office in Mays Landing after the final Voting Authority signatures are verified against the machine count, said Paula S. Dunn, chairwoman of the Atlantic County Board of Elections.
The results of the two-part recount will determine whether Republican incumbent John Amodeo will keep or relinquish his seat to Democratic challenger Vince Mazzeo. The Second District, with Atlantic City at its center, includes much of Atlantic County.
Mazzeo, mayor of Northfield, was certified the winner by 40 votes by the Atlantic County clerk and Board of Elections on Nov. 19. Amodeo immediately petitioned Superior Court and won a recount last week. Within 10 days after the recount results are certified, either side can file an election challenge.
The hand recount "is where I believe the issues lie," Amodeo said Wednesday as he, his campaign manager, and attorney huddled inside the Atlantic County Voting Machine Warehouse as rain fell hard outside.
They watched as Dunn and her staff, members of the Superintendent's Elections Office and Clerk's Office, looked at thousands of Voting Authority slips with signatures of voters - about 63,000 - to make sure they matched the number of votes cast in a particular machine.
The group of 10 got through about half the slips before deciding to adjourn just before 4 p.m. for the Thanksgiving holiday. They will reconvene at 9 a.m. Friday at the warehouse.
Dunn said that after the Voting Authority slips were completed, the group would head to the Mays Landing office to start the hand recount of ballots.
The 243 voting machines in 17 towns used in the contested race were rechecked starting Tuesday.
Machines used in Hamilton, Longport, Somers Point, Pleasantville, Linwood, and Mullica were completed Wednesday.
Dunn said the hand recount could take days.
"I'm sure it's tough for my challenger, too," Amodeo, a semiretired crane operator from Margate, said of the waiting game. "He's basically in the same shoes I'm in."
Amodeo came out on top by 379 votes on election night, Nov. 5, and gave a victory speech.
Two weeks later, the county clerk and Board of Elections certified Mazzeo the winner by 40 votes after 22 hours of acrimonious counting of provisional ballots.
The Elections Board opened 115 provisional ballots after Superior Court Judge Julio L. Mendez ordered that those ballots, which were contested by Republicans as having been improperly handled, should be counted.
The certified totals had Mazzeo with 25,164 votes to Amodeo's 25,124 votes.
Amodeo won his request for a recount two days later.