This November 6, I implore Hoboken residents to vote no on eliminating the municipal runoff elections. There have been several reasons given but none are defensible. The worst of them all is inconvenience and “voter fatigue.” I’m not sure how this colloquialism arose but it seems without merit. They point to 2009 when we had five elections and claim “voter fatigue.” If any research was done, it would have been discovered that the opposite was true. The May 2009 municipal election had over 10,600 votes cast. The following runoff in June had a 14 percent increase to over 12,200 votes and the eventual special election in November 2009 had a further 12 percent increase to over 13,700 votes cast. This totally contradicts the notion of “voter fatigue,”’ add on top of that the fact that countless lives have been lost to protect our right to vote and how can any American claim “voter fatigue.”
The next argument for eliminating the runoff is increased voter turnout, they point to the presidential election turnout. That’s valid but Hoboken’s Mayoral election occurs during the Governor’s race and the Council elections coincide with State Senator and Assembly. Again, analyzing the numbers tells a different story. The council elections of May 2011 had a citywide turnout of over 7,300 votes while the November 2011 general elections had a -28 percent decrease to roughly 5,200 votes. Going back to the 2009 elections, a further analysis shows that in the June Mayoral runoff, the winner with over 50 percent of the vote received 6,188 votes. Comparatively, in the November 2009 special election, the winner received 41 percent of the vote and had -8 percent less votes at 5,739. Therefore, this implies that only 15 percent of registered voters (over 37,300 registered voters in Hoboken) decided the election.
Furthermore, under the Faulkner Act, we have a strong mayor/council form of government; it is a bit disconcerting to think that a small number of voters will be able to impact the majority so disproportionately. Consequently, by maintaining the runoff it allows coalitions to be built, our Founding Fathers believed in compromise and equality. The runoff causes candidates to have to reach out to the broader community and establish positive relationships.
The final argument for eliminating the runoff is cost savings. Lately, it seems that everyone is concerned with slashing costs; this is the wrong way to analyze any proposal. The proper way should be value-added analysis. The rough estimate to run an election is $150,000; in a budget of over $100million this represents less than 1 percent. There is more than enough value-added in a runoff that it should not be eliminated. Again, on November 6, 2012 vote against eliminating the runoff.
A concerned citizen for democracy,