Home Events + NewsEvents Hoboken Election 2018 Ballot Question: To Runoff or Not to Runoff

Hoboken Election 2018 Ballot Question: To Runoff or Not to Runoff

by Niki Bhargava
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This Election Day, Hoboken voters will have an opportunity to vote on whether to reinstate runoff elections after the past three mayoral elections have resulted from the winners receiving less than 50 percent of votes. The ballot question will allow Hoboken voters to decide whether or not runoff elections will return to the Mile Square in 2019. We’re breaking it down a bit more for you so that the runoff Hoboken ballot question doesn’t trip you up:


What is a runoff?

Runoff elections are a voting system in which voters cast a single vote for their preferred candidate, and in the event that no candidate receives over 50% of the votes, the two candidates who received the most votes are entered into a second round. This second round of voting would happen one month later, in December, where the two top candidates would face each other one-on-one in a separate election.

The Hoboken Runoff History

Hoboken voters previously eliminated runoff elections in 2012 with over 50% of the votes in favor of eliminating such a system, but recent Council actions have led to the ballot question appearing in next week’s elections. This past February, the City Council voted to add a referendum to this year’s ballot that will seek voter approval to reinstate runoff elections. At the time, the council also voted unanimously in support of instant runoffs, which is a system that allows voters to rank candidates in the voting booth in real-time.

What It Means to Vote Yes:

Those in favor of runoff elections argue that it is a fair system and that without such a system in place, the election process in Hoboken is outdated and broken. First Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco has been extremely outspoken about his support for reinstating runoff elections in Hoboken. Councilman DeFusco came in second place to Mayor Bhalla in last year’s election, and if a runoff system had been in place he would have faced Mayor Bhalla in December of last year. 

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What It Means to Vote No:

Critics of runoff elections have said that a second election is costly to voters, increases the chances of voter fraud and buyouts, and that second-round turnout is projected to be minimal. Mayor Bhalla’s deputy chief of staff Jason Freeman has said, “Runoff elections a month later simply create additional cost to the taxpayer, a depressed turnout, and increased influence from corrupt actors. Make no mistake, voter fraud is real, and the US Attorney’s Office is currently investigating such fraud in Hoboken,” but is otherwise in support of Mayor Bhalla’s stance on runoff elections.

Hoboken Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher explains her stance further, “Hoboken votes! In particular in municipal elections. Since 2005, in our 3 runoff elections total voter turnout was -3 to +14% vs the initial election. And turnout for just the top two candidates in those elections increased 48% to 63%! Runoffs are good for democracy, will minimize hostility and divisiveness in our general elections, and ensure that our local leaders are elected by a majority. Additionally, paid for votes/corruption has a lesser impact when you a smaller field of candidates like in a runoff.”

If voters do elect to reinstate runoff elections, it would change the face of the Hoboken electoral system.

The question will be at the bottom of your ballots on November 6th this year, and it will read as follows: “Shall runoff elections be held in the City of Hoboken as permitted by the Uniform Nonpartisan Elections Law?” If you vote “YES” – you’re in favor of runoffs being reinstated, and if you vote “NO” – you’re not in favor of runoffs being reinstated.

Remember that no matter which side of the matter you fall on, it is important to have your voice heard! The outcome will determine the future of elections in Hoboken. Happy voting!


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