In Brief

Republican assemblyman faces grim prospects as Democrat takes lead in 8th District

By: - November 10, 2023 4:01 pm

Assemblyman Brandon Umba has slipped into third place in the 8th District Assembly race behind Democrat Andrea Katz. Dana DiFilippo | New Jersey Monitor)

A Democratic challenger has emerged with a narrow lead over incumbent Assemblyman Brandon Umba (R-Burlington) in the 8th Legislative District, and uncounted mail and provisional ballots in the race may clinch a sixth Assembly flip for Democrats.

A Democratic win in this South Jersey district, which includes mostly Burlington County towns, would be an upset, though it is one of seven districts most targeted by outside spending in the runup to Election Day, state election officials said last week.

Democrat Andrea Katz leads Umba 27,037 to 27,010, putting her ahead of the incumbent by a mere 27 votes. It’s not clear that outstanding mail and provisional ballots leave Umba with a path to reelection.

Assemblyman Michael Torrissi (R-Burlington) remains the lead vote-getter, with 27,502 votes. Katz’s running mate, Democrat Anthony Angelozzi, tails the field with 26,849.

Burlington County election officials plan to resume counting votes on Monday.

If Katz’s lead holds, New Jersey Democrats will emerge from Election Day with a 52-28 majority in the Assembly. Not counting the 8th District, Democrats flipped five Assembly seats that are currently under GOP control.

Democrats’ Senate majority will remain static at 25-15 after they reclaimed a seat in the 3rd District and lost another in the 12th.

Outstanding votes won’t be enough to reverse Republican Latham Tiver’s victory in the 8th District’s Senate race. Tiver, a former Burlington County commissioner, leads Democrat Gaye Burton by 1,365 votes.

There were 655 provisional ballots issued in the district. Most, 577, came from Burlington County, where overall returns favored Democrats.

Just 70 mail-in ballots remain uncounted in Burlington County, while Atlantic County election officials have tallied just 445 of the 1,142 vote-by-mail ballots they’ve received.

The number of uncounted mail-in ballots will rise before final tallies are completed next week. Election officials will accept mail-in ballots until Nov. 13 as long as they were postmarked by Election Day.

The provisional ballots are expected to break in favor of the Republican candidates since GOP voters are more likely to cast ballots on Election Day, while mail-in ballots are popular with Democrats.

Voters who receive but do not return a mail-in ballot cannot cast machine votes on Election Day and are instead provided a provisional ballot. Democratic mail-ballot requestors outnumbered their Republican counterparts more than two-to-one in the 8th District.

Not all of the outstanding ballots will be added to final counts. Some mail-in votes will be discounted because of signature problems or other issues. These voters can submit cure letters until Nov. 16 to have their ballots counted.

Some provisional ballots won’t be tallied because the voters who cast them voted already or were not eligible to vote in the district, among other reasons.

The Atlantic County Board of Elections is set to reconvene Wednesday to tally the district’s outstanding mail and provisional ballots.


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Nikita Biryukov
Nikita Biryukov

Nikita Biryukov most recently covered state government and politics for the New Jersey Globe. His tenure there included revelatory stories on marijuana legalization, voting reform and Rep. Jeff Van Drew's decamp to the Republican Party. Earlier, he worked as a freelancer for The Home News Tribune and The Press of Atlantic City.