New Jersey's governor's race was still too close to call as Election Night stretched into the early hours of Wednesday morning. But Montclair voters overwhelmingly backed Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy over his Republican challenger, Jack Ciattarelli.

The statewide vote between the two candidates was neck-in-neck as of Montclair Local’s print deadline. With 97.5% of voting districts reporting as of 10:50 a.m. Wednesday, Murphy was ahead by a slim margin — 1,187,840 to 1,180,645, NJ.com reported, citing Associated Press tallies.

Those unofficial votes didn’t include provisional ballots or mail-in ballots that hadn’t yet been received and processed. Mail-in ballots can be postmarked as late as Election Day and received by county offices as late as Nov. 8.

But in Montclair, the vote was far and away Murphy's — 10,742 to 1,601, with 31 of 35 districts reporting by 8 a.m. Wednesday. As of Monday, the Essex County Clerk’s office had received 2,915 of 5,982 requested mail-in ballots for Montclair, according to figures the office provided Montclair Local. No updated tally had yet been received.

A Rutgers-Eagleton poll released Monday found Murphy ahead by 8 points — a strong lead, but far from 26 points a previous Eagleton poll found in June.

Murphy would be joined in a new term by incumbent Lt. Gov. Sheila Y. Oliver. Ciattarelli would be joined by Diane Allen.

Also on the ballot were Socialist Workers Party candidates Joanne Kuniansky for governor and Vivian M. Sahner for lieutenant; Green Party candidates Madelyn R. Hoffman for governor and Heather Warburton for lieutenant; and Libertarian party candidates Gregg Mele for governor and Eveline Brownstein for lieutenant.

No to college sports betting

Voters statewide, as well as in Montclair, rejected a ballot measure to allow wagering on college sporting events.

By 8 a.m. Wednesday, the measure appeared to be defeated, with 1,055,709 no votes and 808,321 yes votes, according to the AP tallies.

In Montclair, with 31 of 35 voting districts reporting by that point, voters also rejected the measure — 4,397 voting yes, and 6,967 voting no.

If the vote had passed, the state Legislature could have passed laws permitting wagering on any college sport or athletic event — regardless of whether a New Jersey team is involved. The wagering would have been available only at casinos and current or former horse racetracks.

Yes to changing raffle rules

Voters statewide and in Montclair supported a state constitutional amendment to allow more organizations to keep the proceeds from raffles and bingo games they run.

By 8 a.m. Wednesday, the referendum question had 1,178,371 yes votes to 657,663 no votes. In Montclair to that point, voters had backed the measure 7,227 to 4,004.

Currently, certain groups — veterans, charitable, educational, religious, fraternal, civic and senior citizen groups; volunteer fire companies; first-aid or rescue squads, and senior citizens — are allowed to run games such as bingo and raffles.

But only veterans and senior citizen groups have been allowed to use the proceeds from those games to support their groups. The rest can use them only for educational, charitable, patriotic, religious or public-spirited uses.

Now, any groups that are authorized to run the games will be able to keep their proceeds.

“Many nonprofits have seen major financial set-backs over the last year,” Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez (D-Middlesex), one of the sponsors of a bill that put the measure on the ballot, said earlier this year. “We have seen that allowing veterans and senior citizen groups to use the proceeds from bingo and raffles has helped them tremendously and it is time we expanded those benefits to more groups.”

Assemblyman Gordon Johnson (D-Bergen) said at the time nonprofits employ more than 30,000 people in New Jersey. 

“These hard-working employees perform incredibly important jobs and the pandemic has dramatically impacted these programs’ ability to function,” Johnson said. “The net proceeds from game nights will provide much needed support for these organizations.”

— Montclair Local staff