Morris Township Committee: And the winner is…

Committee candidate Louise Johnson pauses from Morris Township committee recount; Morris County Elections Commissioner George Hanley keeps working. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Committee candidate Louise Johnson pauses from Morris Township committee recount; Morris County Elections Commissioner George Hanley keeps working. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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Louise Johnson, by 14 votes.

The Republican newcomer’s Nov. 4 victory over two-term Democratic Committeeman Jeff Grayzel appears intact after a review of rejected ballots on Wednesday.

Committee candidate Louise Johnson pauses from Morris Township committee recount; Morris County Elections Commissioner George Hanley keeps working. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Committeewoman-elect Louise Johnson, at a recount in November 2014. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

It was the third recount by Grayzel in hopes of narrowing the gap and retaining the sole Democratic seat on the governing body.

This time, he gained one vote after Morris County election officials in Morristown scrutinized 24 mail-in ballots and seven provisional ballots that had been rejected for assorted reasons, Johnson said.

The extra vote involved confusion over residency; a Township voter’s address had been mistaken for a Parsippany address, Johnson said.

Asked if she finally was prepared to celebrate, the apparent victor replied: “To be honest, I already had champagne. It is a little bit of a fractured process.”

Grayzel could not immediately be reached for comment. 

Update: Grayzel said that he and former Committeeman Ron Goldberg  “will be reviewing additional voter data over the next few days, and I hope to make a final determination on how to proceed by the end of the weekend.”

According to Alan Zakin, an attorney representing the Republicans, “the winner had already been certified as Louise and confirmed following the recount.”

Johnson said she is looking forward to being sworn into office on Jan. 7, 2014.  She said she hopes to tap her professional background in information technology management to explore how the Township might improve its use of I.T. and online communications with residents.

“I’m serious to see if we’re getting the most out of technology,” she said.

Previously, officials recounted 33 provisional ballots, and then they reconvened to recount more than 500 mail-in ballots and doublecheck tallies from 46 voting machines.

From these combined events, Grayzel gained three votes. That number would have spared him from a special runoff election (which he won) in 2007. But it was not enough in this contest.

Johnson said these recounts gave her a new appreciation for the professionalism of Morris County’s board of elections staff and the reliability of voting technology.

“When you think of all the thousands of ballots that were processed, there was only one thing you might consider a clerical error. The technology has really evolved, where you can trust the process,” she said.

Republican Louise Wilson holds a 17-vote lead over Democratic incumbent Jeff Grayzel. Provisional ballots will be counted on Monday. Montage by Kevin Coughlin
Republican Louise Wilson survived three recounts by Democratic incumbent Jeff Grayzel, to deny him a third term.  Montage by Kevin Coughlin
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