Wait for Montclair school board election results continues
The outcome of Tuesday’s Montclair Board of Education election remains unknown, as votes from two of Montclair’s 41 districts are under seal pending a court order by the county clerk.
Votes from Ward 2, District 2 and Ward 4, District 9 “were not returned by board workers,” Essex County Clerk Christopher J. Durkin said Wednesday night.
“Therefore, we are requesting a court order in order to retrieve the results from those two districts to complete the results,” Durkin said.
Durkin has not yet responded to an email sent Thursday morning asking for additional details about what happened and how long the court order would take.
Unofficial results from the Essex County Clerk's office at 11 a.m. Thursday showed Yvonne W. Bouknight with 30.39% of votes, Brian Fleischer with 25.62%, Mfreke “Monk” Inyang with 22.64% and Noah Gale with 21.35%. The count includes early voting and mail-in ballot counts.
Voting machines are impounded for 15 days following Election Day.
The overwhelming support for the referendum question on Tuesday’s ballot — with 84% of voters approving an $187.7 million investment in Montclair schools — has led to a clear outcome, decided without the outstanding votes.
Sealed vote counts are not uncommon in Montclair or Essex County. After the November 2021 election, 56 districts in the county — 15 of which were in Montclair — failed to provide voting machine election results, Durkin said at the time.
"Every Election Day voting machine is impounded by law at 8 p.m. on election night whether or not you received the results from them," Durkin said last November. "The impounding of machines is so any machine can only be inspected through a judge’s order protecting the security of the voting machines."
On Thursday, Bouknight, who currently leads the three other candidates, said she was thankful for the town’s support for her and the referendum.
“People just showed up, and I'm just so happy that that happened,” she said.
She said she has felt a little anxious during the wait so far, but she’s excited to see the results.
“I pray and hope that the results will reveal the correct three people that will serve on the board for the next three years,” she said.
Gale, who currently sits at the bottom of the pack, said Thursday he was shocked at the results.
“I was not expecting it to be this close,” Gale said. “Either way, whether I win or lose, I am proud of myself, and I am proud of all the other candidates.”
While he waits on results, Inyang plans to stay focused on his work on the board, helping the district to prepare to move forward with the bond process, he said Thursday.
"It definitely is a very close race at this time, so we’ll just have to wait for the final result," Inyang said. "I’m glad and grateful that voters overwhelmingly agreed on the investment in our schools and passed the bond referendum."
Flesicher declined to comment until the race is called.