Wrongfully overturning an election
Apr 28, 2013 | 1394 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Dear Editor:

The principles of democracy and justice upon which our country is founded require that citizens have the right and the freedom to vote in elections in the manner in which they desire to determine who will represent them and the actions our government will take on important issues. Overturning the results of an election violates our democratic principles unless there is a compelling reason to do so which is supported by incontrovertible evidence.

During the Nov. 6, 2012 presidential election, the citizens of Hoboken voted on local issues that were put on the ballot by fellow resident petitioners. People cast their votes, the votes were counted, and the winners determined. Because it is a democratic society, the majority that votes for a person or issue is the winner. One may not like how the results turned out, but a democratic process allows the public to freely choose who they want in office and to determine the outcome of the public questions.

Hoboken had three public questions on the ballot last November. Hoboken Public Question No. 2 would have eliminated protections given tenants by the rent control law if the majority of the residents had voted ‘Yes’.

The ‘No’ vote won by 52 votes. It was a fair election with 16,444 people voting on that question alone –more people voting on an issue or candidate than ever before in Hoboken.

But a well-funded group of realtors and developers petitioned the New Jersey Superior Court to overturn this election result, based upon the assertion by their lawyers that 114 Hoboken voters who had been displaced by Hurricane Sandy and forced to vote provisionally outside of Hoboken were not able to vote on the local issues. Neither the court nor election officials checked the list of 114 voters these petitioners submitted as evidence. Some 5 of the 114 were duplicates. At least 74 of the remaining 109 names on the list were no longer residents of Hoboken or not registered to vote in Hoboken on election day, and so were not allowed to vote on local Hoboken issues. I actually spoke to two of these people who said they would have voted ‘No’ if they had been allowed to do so. Even if all of the remaining 35 provisional voters were valid Hoboken voters and would have voted “Yes”, it would not have been enough votes to change the election result, a necessary condition for overturning an election.

Therefore, the will of 16,444 voters was overturned based on false evidence that was not properly reviewed by the court. Most of the provisional voters were never residents at the time of the election. An election has been wrongly overturned because there would be no possible way for the ‘Yes’ vote to have won, as their lawyer falsely claimed in order to get another election for his clients. This is not how our election system works – keep voting until the results of the election change? This is wrong and horribly undermines the democratic process of the voting people of these United States.

Mary Ondrejka

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