Citing the thin vote margin, a Superior Court granted a request for a recount in the Red Bank council election Friday.
The action by Judge Katie Gummer, in Freehold, means that incumbent Democratic Councilman Mike DuPont still has at least one more shot at reversing his apparent two-vote loss in last week’s election.
In a hearing that lasted less than half an hour, Gummer rejected an argument by Bruce Padula, a lawyer representing council challenger and presumed winner Mike Whelan, that DuPont’s petition for a recount included no evidence of an error in prior counts.
“Given the thin margin here, and the cornerstone importance of the integrity of the election process,” Gummer granted the recount request, she said.
DuPont, a lawyer, was not present, and was represented in court by law partner Ed Washburne.
The still-unofficial tally showed that DuPont lost his bid for a fourth three-year term to 24-year-old political newcomer Whelan, 967 votes to 965. Whelan running mate Mark Taylor led all four candidates for the two open council seats with 1,033 votes. DuPont running mate Mike Ballard was fourth, with 934. Ballard conceded defeat on election night.
Those figures include 24 provisional ballots, some of which were at first disallowed but were later allowed after consultation with the state Attorney General’s office on Monday, according to the Monmouth County Board of Elections.
The date for the recount, to be conducted by the Monmouth County Board of Elections, was not immediately set, but was expected to be at least a week away.
Gummer rejected a request by Washburne that the recount include not just machine ballots, mail-in ballots and provisionals, but also ballots that had been rejected.
Deputy Atorneny General George Cohen, who participated in the hearing by telephone, protested, telling Gummer that the request would take the matter beyond the realm of a simple recount and into that of a contested election.