In November's vote, the residents of Hoboken narrowly defeated the changes to the rent control laws, keeping rent control as it is.
In a statement released Thursday morning, the Mile Square Taxpayers Association (MSTA) claimed that 280 vote-by-mail ballots were unfairly excluded from the election by the Hudson County Board of Election. The election was only decided by 122 votes, which means that if MSTA succeeds, the results of the election could be overturned.
“The purpose of the petition is to have all legitimate votes counted,” said Charles Gormally, MSTA’s attorney. “We are going to get to the bottom of why registered voters, some of whom delivered their own ballot to the county board of elections, were denied the opportunity to vote.”
The referendum, authored by MSTA, asked voters whether they wanted to change the city’s codes to allow landlords to decontrol rents permanently in apartment buildings with four units or less and just once in buildings with five or more units.
A group of tenant advocates called the Hoboken Fair Housing Association fought against the referendum on the grounds that it would make tenants vulnerable to harassment and harm the city’s socioeconomic diversity.
The circumstances of Thursday’s announcement by the MSTA will seem like a case of déjà vu for many Hoboken voters, as the results of an identical referendum on the 2012 ballot were challenged by MSTA in court throughout much of this year, on the grounds that voters displaced by Hurricane Sandy were barred from weighing in on the question because it did not appear on statewide ballots. A panel of judges agreed and ordered the question appear on last month’s ballot. – Dean DeChiaro