O’Neil undecided on challenging the election results
The results of the election for mayor of the Borough of Highlands remain unchanged following a recount conducted by the Monmouth County Board of Elections in Freehold on Tuesday afternoon.
Councilwoman Carolyn Broullon won the election over Mayor Rick O’Neil by one vote, 603-602.
O’Neil won the majority of the votes cast on voting machines, 534-518. Broullon got 59% of the Vote By Mail votes that arrived by election day, November 5, 71-49. O’Neil got 6 of the 8 VBM ballots that were postmarked by November 5 and were delivered by the post office by November 7. The certified provisional ballots broke for O’Neil, 13-12.
There were 9 voided VBM ballots. 5 were determined to be defective, i.e., a missing signature, signature that did not match the records or other defect. Four ballots arrived after 8 p.m on November 7. Of the four late VBM ballots, two were postmarked on November 5.
Four provisional ballots were voided. One because the voter is registered in Hudson County, one because the voter was not registered, one because the voter cast a VBM ballot and one because the voter registered voted too late to be qualified to vote on November 5.
The votes cast on the voided ballots were not checked.
O’Neil huddled with his attorney, Bruce Padulo of Cleary, Giacobbe, Alfieri , Jacobs, LLC, Councilwoman Rosemary Ryan and former Councilman Chris Francy following the recount. The mayor said was undecided on whether or not to challenge the results. A challenge involves asking a Judge to rule that ballots were wrongfully voided and should be counted. A challenge must be filed within 12 days of the recount.
Regardless of O’Neil’s decision regarding a challenge, Broullon will be sworn in as mayor on January 1. If O’Neil decides to challenge and is successful in winning, the Court will order him to take office and Broullon, who will resign as a councilwoman upon becoming mayor, will be out of office. If a challenge results in a tie, there will be a new election.
The Highlands governing body will have 30 days to fill the vacancy created by Broullon’s resignation. If the four remaining governing body members cannot agree on a replacement for Broullon, the seat will remain vacant until the November 2020 election is certified.