May 23, 2018

Mayor Bhalla Cites Illegal Vote Buying & Reduced Voter Participation in Veto of Referendum to Re-Instate Runoffs

Hoboken, NJ - Thursday, January 25th, 2018

Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla issued a veto of ordinance B-3 for a referendum to reinstate run-off elections in December, stating in part:

Presumably, the objective of this legislation is to ensure that any successful candidate for office obtain at least 50% of the vote. While this is a worthwhile objective, it needs to be considered together with other important objectives such as maximizing voter participation and minimizing the likelihood of elections results being influenced by improper conduct. The evidence is clear that there is a dramatic reduction in voter turnout associated with December runoff elections, as we saw most recently during four Jersey City runoffs in 2017 which experienced voter turnout reductions ranging from 33.6 percent to 45.4 percent.

The open secret known by every single member of the City Council and alluded to in multiple local news reports is that there is massive vote-buying that occurs in our elections. Reducing voter turnout through runoffs in December will amplify the power of those vote-buying operations, making our elections less democratic. Therefore, the approach taken by the City Council in achieving this objective is highly misguided and amounts to poor public policy that I cannot support. A far better approach, which I fully support, is to move to instant runoff (also known as ranked choice) voting which is commonplace around the country.”

The full veto statement is available at: http://www.hobokennj.gov/docs/mayor/Ordinance-B3-Veto.pdf

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