What has to happen to force council-at-large runoff elections in Jersey City and Hoboken?


With the Jersey City and Hoboken municipal elections looming next week, and early voting already underway, many voters are wondering what it would take to force a council-at-large runoff election in December.

Photo via jerseycitynj.gov.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“If one candidate receives 50 percent plus one vote, then that candidate takes the next two vote getters in with them, regardless of who they’re running with. If none of the candidates meet that threshold, then the top six candidates will square off in a runoff,” Jersey City Clerk Sean Gallagher told HCV over the phone today.

While the “50 plus 1” aspect of runoffs is well-known among informed voters, Gallagher also detailed the far lesser known state formula that explains how that threshold is determined.

In short, the clerk’s office will take the total number of council-at-large votes cast, divide that number by six (the number of candidates who would be in a runoff), and add one to that number.

For example, if 20,000 residents cast a vote for council-at-large and that number is divided by six, it would result in about 3,333 – meaning that 3,334 would be the vote tally at least one candidate would need to hit in order to prevent a runoff.

If that threshold is not reached by any candidate, the top six candidates will enter a runoff to determine three winners.

In Jersey City, seven candidates are running at-large, so only one candidate would fail to make a runoff in that scenario.

The Hoboken Clerk’s Office deferred comment to the county, where Hudson County Clerk E. Junior Maldonado corroborated Gallagher’s interpretation of state law.

The Mile Square City has 10 candidates seeking three at-large seats, meaning that a runoff would eliminate four council hopefuls.

Hoboken hasn’t seen a runoff election in over a decade, though voters overwhelmingly brought them back via a November 2018 referendum.

The non-partisan municipal elections for both cities are on November 2nd and early voting is available through Halloween.

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  1. It seems very convoluted. Top six vote getter candidates in JC and top 3 in Hoboken would be the better way to go. A second round of elections opens the door to voter burn out and a greater chance of shenanigans.