Certified winners in tight Atlantic highlands election

Every vote counts indeed. In the Atlantic Highlands Borough Council race, the competition resulted in a very close vote count. On election night, no one could predict the winners.

As the vote closed on November 2, the machine’s results showed that outgoing Council Chairman James Murphy was clearly the winner for one of the two Council seats, but the other winner was a puzzle. The remaining seat would go to Murphy’s running mate, Republican Ellen O’Dwyer, who garnered 910 votes that night, or Democrat Brian Dougherty, who garnered 887 votes on election night.

Election night results did not include the significant number of postal votes that were cast in the county. Attendance at postal voting increased in part due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Due to the new postal voting law, the counting of postal ballots continues after election day. The new law allows the receipt of ballots by post by the Electoral Council up to 6 days after the close of polling stations, provided that the ballot is postmarked on polling day.

On Friday, November 5, with only the first mail-in ballots, Dougherty led with one voice. (914-913).

Provisional ballots were also not included on election night. These are paper ballots that are filled out at the polling station if, for example, the voter is registered in the county but moved to a new address in the county or if the registration register shows that the voter asked for a postal ballot earlier. The provisional ballots were validated and added to the count later. They usually only represent a small fraction of the total votes in a constituency, so they usually don’t affect the outcome.


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The Election Council began counting the provisional ballots on Friday, November 12. The counting of the results took place on Monday, November 15 at 11 a.m. .

The county clerk on November 20 certified the election results to the NJ Secretary of State. With all the ballots counted, Brian Dougherty won the second council seat by a margin of 6 votes. The final vote count was 945-939.

The O’Dwyer-Wood campaign made an earlier request under the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) for the data underlying the solicitation. Ellen O’Dwyer-Wood said they would review the data over the next few days. She said today: “I accept the results if the data confirms it. “

Brian Dougherty, 46, new to politics, will be sworn in at Atlantic Highlands Borough Hall on January 1 at noon for a 3-year term as a city councilor. Council Chairman James Murphy will be sworn in for his second term as Borough Councilor at that time.

In an email to the Herald, Dougherty said, “It is often said that ‘every vote counts.’ This sentence has never been truer than in this recent election. I am honored and touched to have the opportunity to serve on the Atlantic Highlands Council. He concluded: “My message to the people of Atlantic Highlands is simple: Whether you voted for me or not, I pledge to work on your behalf in the service of this city we all love. Thank you for entrusting me with the responsibility of representing you. I am ready to get to work.

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