On November 6, 2012, 16,444 people voted on Hoboken Public Question #2 (HPQ#2). The Yes vote (to decontrol rents for new tenants) was 8,196. The No vote (to preserve rent control) was 8,248. On February 11, 2013, New Jersey Superior Court Judge Christine Farrington ruled that those 16,444 votes are null and void. This ruling happened quickly, after only one court hearing. Judge Farrington ruled that the election result “is set aside for the reason that 114 qualified voters were deprived of their right to participate in the local election because those 114 qualified voters were not given notice that provisional ballots cast outside the City of Hoboken would not include the public questions. Furthermore, the election results as to Hoboken Public Question Number 2 is set aside because the margin between the yes and no votes is 52, and 114 votes are sufficient to effect the outcome of the election.”
Did any of these 114 provisional voters complain that they were deprived of their rights? If Hoboken Public Questions were so important to answer for these 114 people, they could have voted in Hoboken, at the Hudson County Court House, or by mail, email, or fax, with ballots with Hoboken’s questions on it, as did the 16,444 voters who successfully voted on HPQ#2.
When two teams play a sport and one wins by only one point, does that mean that the winner is not really the winner? Just because the No side won the election by only 52 votes and 114 votes might change the election result, does this justify the overturning of an election and the disenfranchising of 16,444 voters who took the time and responsibility to make sure that their vote was cast? Note that for these 114 votes to change the election result, at least 83 would have to be Yes votes (and no more than 31 No votes), which is extremely unlikely since the No vote got over half of the 16,444 votes properly cast. Why should 16,444 actual votes be overturned because of an unlikely hypothetical outcome of 114 voters?
Do we actually know for a fact that these 114 people did not vote on Hoboken public questions or that they even cared to do so? On Election Day Hurricane Sandy was gone, the waters had receded, the roads were clear and passable, and polling places were open all day in Hoboken. A great effort was made to enable every Hoboken citizen to vote. The State of New Jersey even provided ways to vote through Friday, November 9. Everyone bent over backwards to make sure people could vote. If these 114 people wanted to vote on the public questions they could have found a way to do so.
I resent my vote being set aside because the Yes side wants to vote again to try to win. If special interests with lots of money can go to court and overturn election results they don’t like, then our fundamental democratic rights have been lost.