An ordinance to allow Hoboken voters to decide on future run-off elections has been vetoed for the second time in a little over a month—this time by Mayor Ravi Bhalla.
“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,” said Bhalla, in his veto statement.
“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,” he adds. “Reducing voter turnout through runoffs in December will amplify the power of those vote-buying operations, making our elections less democratic.”
The ordinance passed through City Council by a vote of 6-2 (1 absent).
Councilman Michael DeFusco, who co-sponsored the ordinance, says, “It is disappointing to see Mayor Bhalla not just deny Hoboken residents the opportunity to have their voices heard in a public referendum on our voting rights, but to also see him spread misinformation and half-truths while doing so. The ordinance he vetoed was passed overwhelmingly by the City Council and it would simply allow our community to collectively decide whether or not to re-institute runoff elections. This issue should be decided by the people, not by entrenched, establishment politicians like Mayor Bhalla who benefit from a flawed current system.”
“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,” says Bhalla.
In one of her last moves as Mayor of Hoboken, Dawn Zimmer rejected the Hoboken City Council’s 7-2 decision to put forth a referendum to restore runoff elections in municipal contests.