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Election Updates: Booker, Watson Coleman win reelection, N.J. votes to legalize marijuana, races from Princeton Public Schools to presidency too close to call

The morning after the polls closed, here’s what we know so far.

Photo credit: CMElixirs / Pixabay
Photo credit: CMElixirs / Pixabay

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and NJ-12 Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman have won reelection, and three state ballot initiatives involving tax deductions, redistricting, and the legalization of marijuana are expected to pass, according to projections from the Associated Press and The New York Times.

Still, many races have not been called, from an eight-way chase for seats on Princeton’s school board to a hotly-contested race for the U.S. Presidency. 

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The morning after the polls closed, here’s a look at what we know — and what we don’t.

Ballot Measures

After yesterday's vote, New Jersey is likely to become the 12th state to legalize marijuana as residents overwhelmingly voted for a constitutional amendment to make the substance available for recreational use amongst adults. Of the ballots counted, 67 percent of New Jerseyans voted “yes” on the amendment, which legalizes recreational use for individuals over 21 years of age and legalizes the “cultivation, processing and sale of retail marijuana.” According to The Wall Street Journal, state lawmakers intend to pass additional legislation enabling the marijuana market to work, and it is unclear how long that will take and when sales will begin in the state. 

Arizona and South Dakota also voted to legalize recreational marijuana, according to CNN projections. According to New York Times projections, Montana voted to legalize recreational marijuana and Mississippi voted to legalize medical marijuana. 

The other two measures on the New Jersey ballot are both expected to pass, according to Associated Press projections. A ballot question making peacetime veterans eligible for a $250 property tax deduction was approved by 76.3 percent of counted ballots, and 59.5 percent of voters have approved a question allowing a redistricting schedule change, postponing state legislative redistricting until after the election on Nov. 2, 2021 if the state receives federal census data after Feb. 15. The Princeton Gerrymandering Project has come out in opposition of the ballot question, describing it as “unnecessary” and “counterproductive to the goal of achieving fair representation on a timely basis in New Jersey.”

Local Results

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Most local elections on the Princeton ballot were unopposed this November. Mercer County’s few contested elections have not yet been called, with The New York Times estimating that 77 percent of votes in the county have been counted. 

After facing no opposition in the primary or general election, Democratic candidate Mark Freda will become mayor of the town when Mayor Liz Lempert’s term expires in January. He will be joined by incumbent town council members David Cohen and Leticia Fraga, who defeated Dina Shaw in a contested primary election but were unchallenged in the general election. Mercer County Clerk Paula Covello and Board of Chosen Freeholders members John Cimino and Lucylle Walter will also retain their positions, facing no general election challengers.

Eight candidates are seeking three positions on the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education. Thus far, former mayor Michele Tuck-Ponder, current Board of Education President Beth Behrend, and Jean Durbin, a contracts manager for the University Office of Finance & Treasury, have earned the most votes with 5,032, 4,869, and 4,011 respectively as of 10:41 p.m. last night. 

Adam Bierman and Paul Johnson have both received over 2,500 votes thus far, Karen Lemon has received 2,465, and William Hare has received 2,208. Hendricks Davis has received 1,350 votes. New Jersey is counting all ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 and received by 8 p.m. on Nov. 10, so it is unclear when this race will be decided.

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In the sole contested county-wide election, Democratic Mercer County Sheriff John Kemler holds a strong lead over Republican challenger Bryan ‘Bucky’ Boccanfuso. Unofficial results show Kemler earning 71.7 percent of the vote thus far.

Big-ticket races

On the state-wide level, the Associated Press projects Senator Booker will retain his seat. Booker spoke at Class Day in 2018 and holds an honorary degree from the University.

So far, Booker has gained 60.5 percent of the vote, beating out Republican opponent Rikin Mehta at 37.8 percent. Green Party candidate Madelyn Hoffman and Independents Daniel Burke and Veronica Fernandez have earned a combined 1.6 percent of the vote, with 63 percent of results reported as of 5:57 a.m. The Associated Press projected a win for Booker within 15 minutes of polls closing. 

Congresswoman Watson Coleman has also been declared victorious to represent NJ-12, the Congressional district containing Princeton, with 65 percent of votes reported according to The New York Times. The incumbent Democrat has earned 70.3 percent of the votes reported this far, compared to her Republican challenger Mark Razzoli’s 28.3 percent, and independent candidates Edward Forchion and Kenneth Cody’s 1 percent and 0.4 percent respectively.

The U.S. Presidential election is yet to be declared, with multiple battleground states still tallying votes. Former Vice President Joe Biden won New Jersey’s 14 electoral college votes, with the Associated Press calling the race early last night. Of the 65 percent of results reported as of 5:49 a.m., Biden has earned 60.9 percent of votes in the state, compared to President Donald Trump’s 37.9 percent, Libertarian Jo Jorgensen’s 0.5 percent, and Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins’ 0.3 percent. All other candidates have received fewer than 2,000 votes thus far, while over 7,000 New Jerseyans wrote in their pick for president.

Early this morning, Trump falsely and prematurely declared victory nationally, referring to the counting of mail-in votes as a “fraud on the American public” and saying that “Frankly, we did win this election.” The Associated Press currently reports Biden and Trump having earned 238 and 213 electoral votes respectively, with races in Alaska, Nevada, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Georgia too close to call as of 10:22 a.m. While several of these states are expected to be called soon, some results may not be known for days.

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