TRENTON — The At-Large City Council race is moving from the ballot box to the courtroom.

The law firm representing fourth- to sixth-place winners Alex Betheo, Tywanda Terry-Wilson and Kajo Manuel filed documents asking the judge to consider whether a runoff should be held.

They say City Clerk Brandon Garcia did not provide a voter count for the overall race, so a majority cannot be counted, and they say top vote-getter Yazminelli Gonzalez did not receive enough votes to meet the 50%-plus-one threshold of 3,675 votes. by votes from 9,248 voters in Trenton.

The court filing specifically states, “On November 22, 2022, after the end of the business day, Trenton City Clerk Brandon Garcia sent an email to candidates that read the following:

Dear candidates,

Pursuant to NJSA 40:45-18, there will be no runoff election for the At-Large Board for the City of Trenton. The candidates who received the three highest totals of votes will be recognized as the winners of these seats in the Council.”

The documents also say the clerk “did not name the successful candidates in the email or provide the results of the vote.”

Candidate Caja Manuel emailed Garcia directly asking about the number of voters who voted in the At-Large race, to which the clerk responded by citing publicly available numbers on the county’s website but not addressing the question directly.

The argument made in the lawsuit is that NJSA 40:45-18 has two formulas for determining majority, saying the city is using the wrong formula if there is no runoff.

The first formula states that if there is a way to determine how many electors cast at least one vote for an elector, then that number divided in half plus one vote is a majority. The second states that if there is no way to determine how many ballots produce at least one nomination vote, then the total number of votes divided by twice the number of available seats plus one vote is the threshold.

With 16,749 votes cast for the At-Large City Council and 9,248 ballots in the City of Trenton, the second formula would mean a total of 2,792.5 votes would be needed to declare the winner. If all ballots included at least one nomination vote, 4,625 votes would be needed to reach the 50% plus one mark. Yazminelli Gonzalez ended up with 3,675 votes, clearly exceeding one threshold but not the other, unless only 7,349 ballots in Trenton included votes for at-large candidates.

The statement also said, “Efforts to obtain this information directly from county and city officials were unsuccessful. If there is no second round, it is necessary to “show work” according to the correct statutory formula. Since we have not been given the data, we are not making a determination at this time that the runoff is not needed.”

The lawsuit asks that a judge halt the preparation of city ballots for the Dec. 13 runoff, currently scheduled for the North and South districts, until the city or county clerk provides proof of the total number of voters in the general or runoff. shutdown is scheduled. The lawsuit also calls for full public notice of the addition of the second round of the At-Large Board.

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