Jeof Vita Wins Write-In Election For Vacant BOE Seat

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Published: December 3, 2012 @ 11:47 PM EDT
Jeof Vita Wins Write-In Election For Vacant BOE Seat thumbnail

With election results certified by the Union County Board Of Elections on November 26, 2012, it has been confirmed that Jeof Vita has obtained the most number of votes for the unexpired term of Jason Tribiano – which was temporarily filled by Troy Gerten – to become the latest member of the Roselle Park Board Of Education (BOE). These results counter the initial results reported by the Roselle Park News which stated that Phil Woods received the most number of write-in votes for the unexpired term.

On election night, November 6th, the raw unofficial data provided to the public showed that Phil Woods received 58 votes while Jeof Vita received 19.

WRITE-IN CANDIDATE
WARD 1
WARD 2
WARD 3
WARD 4
WARD 5
TOTAL
Jeof Vita
7
8
1
2
1
19
Phil Woods
17
11
20
8
2
58

10 days later, Jeof Vita received a letter from the Roselle Park BOE congratulating him on receiving the most votes for the unexpired term seat. It was then that questions arose as to how the number of votes were calculated to award Mr. Vita the vacant seat. A source close to the matter, speaking on the condition of anonymity, stated that although Mr. Woods received the most votes, those votes were not cast in the unexpired term column and that Mr. Vita, in fact, had received the most votes in the appropriate column.

Another 10 days passed before the Union County County clerk certified the results and provided official tallies. It was then confirmed that in total, Phil Woods received 64 write-in votes but only six (6) were cast for the unexpired term while more than nine times as many votes, 58, were inadvertently cast for the three-year term. Jeof Vita received a total of 27 votes with 18 of those votes going for the unexpired term and only half that amount being incorrectly cast for the three-year term.

WRITE-IN CANDIDATE
WARD 1
WARD 2
WARD 3
WARD 4
WARD 5
TOTAL
Jeof Vita
7
8
1
2
0
18
Phil Woods
4
0
1
1
0
6
WRITE-IN CANDIDATE
WARD 1
WARD 2
WARD 3
WARD 4
WARD 5
TOTAL
Jeof Vita
0
7
1
0
1
9
Phil Woods
17
11
20
8
2
58

The significant difference between total votes cast and those placed in the appropriate unexpired-term column were a combination of many factors which included this being the first year where the BOE was combined with the general election – causing an unfamiliar booth configuration for voters – and that there was an open seat for an unexpired term which occurred when Troy Gerten opted to run for a full three-year term, vacating his unexpired seat.

The major factor appeared to have been poll workers who themselves were unfamiliar with how to vote for a write-in candidate for the appropriate unexpired term column. Quite a few voters stated when they asked poll workers how to vote for a write-in candidate for the BOE, the workers were uncertain as to how to cast the vote in the appropriate column. In the end, although it appears that even though voters intended to vote for Phil Woods to fill the unexpired term, Jeof Vita had the most voters who voted in the correct column.

When asked for a comment on the final results, Mr. Woods stated he was disappointed with the election process, particularly with poll workers who appeared unprepared to answer voters’ concerns. He stated, “In an election process, they have to be able to educate people who come in and have questions.”

Despite the outcome, Mr. Woods was philosophical in his outlook, “It is what it is. People were asking me, ‘Are you going to get a lawyer?’ and say no, this is Roselle Park. But in a larger town, if this happens in the future, people might be apt to go out and do something. It’s opening up a can of worms.”

Jeof Vita also commented that when reviewing the sample ballot provided by the county, he himself was uncertain on how to properly write-in a vote. In seeing it as being a possible issue, Mr. Vita stated that he crafted his campaign flier to communicate as clearly as possible to voters on how to correctly write him in. He added, “I placed an image of the ballot on the page and highlighted clearly where to put my name and which button to press. That bit of preparation was crucial as even in the booth, it wasn’t exactly crystal clear how to properly enter in a write-in candidate.”

In the end, Mr. Vita was certified as the winner for the unexpired seat on the BOE and Mr. Woods has next year to run again for a three-year term, although he has not given thought to that possibility at this time. Understanding the importance of 12 votes, Mr. Vita concluded the matter by stating, “I consider it a privilege to be able to serve on the BOE and am thankful for the opportunity. I’m looking forward to the challenges ahead and will do whatever needs to be done to best serve the students of Roselle Park.”