Hoboken is a place where those elected to serve have amazing reach and ability to affect our town. For this reason, Hoboken elections are hard fought and hard won. Concerned citizens must devote considerable time and effort to campaigning on important issues and would never miss the opportunity to vote in our local elections.
But there has long been a cloud over Hoboken’s elections and last November that cloud blanketed the entire town. In November 2012, 16,444 residents voted on Hoboken Public Question #2, a ballot initiative intended to severely weaken rent control. The majority voted “no,” choosing to preserve the existing protections. However, a wealthy developer/real estate group filed an election contest claiming that 114 residents displaced by Hurricane Sandy were disenfranchised because they were not told that they couldn’t vote on local issues when voting provisionally outside of Hoboken. The premise was false. The Lt. Governor’s emergency directive didn’t require or intend that provisional ballots containing local issues for every town be available at all polling places. Also the majority of the names submitted as evidence weren’t Hoboken residents and didn’t have any right to vote on our local issues. Not enough true Hoboken voters were on the list to reverse the election result, even if ALL of them voted “yes;” therefore, there was no valid legal basis to void the election.
Nevertheless, without properly reviewing the existing election law or examining the false evidence, the presiding Judge ordered that the election results be voided and the election repeated. With the stroke of her pen 16,444 votes were thrown in the garbage. None of the named defendants (the State of New Jersey, Hudson County, the City of Hoboken) reviewed or questioned the false evidence.
Since the election was voided, we’ve heard no public comments from any elected representatives, or election officials, although some have privately asserted: ‘We don’t care which side won, only that the election was fair.’
Well, the election WAS fair and our elected officials were provided with proof positive of this. What’s not fair is that this election was falsely overturned. So why the continued silence? Does no one have the courage to speak up? With the next election mere months from now, is it simply more practical to remain silent hoping no one will notice, instead of protesting the theft of an election in the courtroom? Which of our elected officials, or those that seek elected office, can claim a moral high ground if they won’t defend the democratic process for the voting majority? Will they defend a true election result only if they are the winners? Can any claim of principle and leadership be convincing when right now there is nothing but silence?
Politics is a dirty, ugly business. Many no longer bother to vote. But when those that are elected to serve abandon their duty and stand mute in the face injustice, because to do otherwise does not serve their political agenda, the pretense of being the ‘good guys’ is exposed. State your position, please… we’re waiting.