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An error at Hudson polls delays official tally of primary ballots  (NJ)

BRIAN T. MURRAY    The Star-Ledger   07 February 2008

New Jersey's presidential primary voting is over, but Hudson County election officials will be unable to officiate their results until they go to Superior Court this week to access some voting machines.

Nothing is expected to change the fact that Hillary Clinton overwhelmingly won the presidential nod from voters in Democrat-dominated Hudson County on Tuesday night, or that John McCain was clearly the favorite among the few Republicans there.

But some who openly bucked county Democratic leaders to endorse Barack Obama over Clinton were left wondering yesterday exactly how the Illinois senator fared in places like Jersey City.

"Unofficially, we understand that Obama took a slight lead over Hillary in Jersey City on Tuesday night. But no one has the official numbers yet," said Hoboken Councilman Michael Russo, who backed Obama.

Most top Hudson officials, including Gov. Jon Corzine, who lives in Hoboken, campaigned for Clinton. But a few, including state Sen. Sandra Cunningham and Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy, openly backed Obama.

Hilda Rosario, supervisor of elections for Hudson County, ex plained that some poll workers failed to take what are known as "cartridges," which keep the official vote counts, from individual ballot ing machines before the machines were officially sealed Tuesday night. While tallies from the voting machines were counted at each polling place at the end of Tues day's balloting, the cartridges contain an exact record that must be delivered to county elections officials so the vote can be officiated.

"We're still assessing how many cartridges were left in the machines by poll workers last night," said Ro sario. "We just can't go back into the machines. They were officially sealed. So, to go back, we need a court order."

Jersey City's Ward F was one area where a cartridge or cartridges were left in the machines, said Russo. Jersey City officials said that, because it was a presidential primary that did not involve local races, the polling was handled by the county and that city officials were not on hand to take their own ward-by-ward tallies.

Rosario said it may not be until Friday that official results for all of the county's 12 towns will be known.

Unofficial results show that Clinton garnered 57,033 votes to Obama's 32,651 in Hudson, and McCain took 6,444 votes to Mitt Romney's 2,358. Republican chal lenger Mike Huckabee took 649 votes, and Ron Paul garnered 543.

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