HOBOKEN – The court battle over vote-by-mail ballots in the Hoboken 4th Ward is underway with Michael Lenz losing Round One.
An ally of Mayor Dawn Zimmer, Lenz represents the swing vote on the council and is alleging a pay-for-vote scheme run by the campaign of opponent Tim Occhipinti.
“(The judge) denied their motion,” said Occhipinti lawyer Michael Goldberg. “You can’t just challenge anything, you know, rumors and innuendo. You have to challenge (the ballots) one by one (at the Board of Elections).”
It’s premature to go to the courts, Goldberg said.
The decision came as no surprise, Occhipinti said in a statement.
“We knew from the beginning that this motion was bogus on its face,” he said. “It was a publicity stunt concocted by a desperate campaign and an insult to the good people of the Hoboken Housing Authority. Michael Lenz should apologize for insulting them and for wasting the court’s time with this frivolous motion.”
Lenz’s campaign could not be reached immediately for comment.
UPDATE (4:44): Lenz said in a statement: “(The judge) ruled that our application to have Vote by Mail ballots sequestered was ‘premature’ in part because the Hudson County Superintendent of Elections is in the midst of an ongoing investigation into the clear and solid evidence of allegations of pervasive election fraud by the Occhipinti campaign. He did not issue any opinion or rule on the merits of the allegations that are still being investigated.
“Evidence of fraud will, in any event, be presented to the Hudson County Board of Elections during the challenge process now and after the election,” Lenz said. “In light of the substantial evidence already developed and the investigations being conducted by the Superintendent of Elections, we are confident that the ultimate judgement will be in our favor when the allegations are considered on their merits.”