Jack Ciattarelli, the Republican candidate for New Jersey governor, has yet to concede the race, saying his campaign may pursue legal action, according to the New York Times.
The night of the election, Ciattarelli took the lead as Republican-leaning counties announced their results, but his numbers were steadily overwhelmed by mail-in ballots from Democrat-leaning counties, and the race flipped the next morning.
A week after the race, Ciattarelli trails Democrat incumbent Phil Murphy by roughly 65,000 votes, or 2.6 percentage points. Murphy has declared victory, as have prominent and respected news outlets such as AP. Murphy was the first Democratic governor to win reelection in New Jersey since 1977.
Murphy campaigned on issues such as expanding healthcare access and raising the minimum wage, while Ciattarelli campaigned on lowering taxes and issues in the public school systems.
“No one should be declaring victory or conceding the election until every legal vote is counted,” Ciattarelli, a former state assemblymember, said in the 2-minute video posted online.
There are currently 70,000 provisional ballots to be counted, but they come from Democrat strongholds and places where Murphy beat Ciattarelli by wide margins, according to counted mail-in ballots and election day votes. The state’s board of elections has been criticized for slow counting and for insufficiently preparing workers and volunteers for the new voting system, which led to long lines in several voting sites.
The Republican campaign is not suggesting voter fraud may have occurred, but they hope that there are enough ballots yet to be counted that will shrink Murphy’s lead enough to put the race within the threshold for a recount. If Ciattarelli’s gains enough to lag behind Murphy by around 26,000 votes, or 1 percentage point.
“At this time, we do not expect the provisional vote count to end with Jack Ciattarelli in the lead. However, that count may reduce the margin for Governor Murphy enough to warrant a full recount,” said Ciattarelli’s legal counsel Mark Sheridan in statement. “Waiting an additional day or two for all votes to be counted should not be controversial…We still have vote-by-mail ballots outstanding and approximately 70,000 provisional ballots to be counted.”
According to New Jersey state law, there is no automatic recount, and the Ciattarelli team would have to file a request in the Superior Court of the county where the recount is requested, according to NBC 4. The state’s 21 counties conduct their own counts of all mail-in and provisional ballots.
The state’s results will be certified by the Board of Canvassers on Decemeber 2.