Abolishing the “Ballot Line” Will Reshape Progressive Politics

April 4, 2024

For decades, the ballot-line format has been a fundamental element of New Jersey’s primary elections across both parties. All of New Jersey, except for Sussex and Salem counties, currently use this format. Though there are slight variations by county, they’re best understood as grids: The highest-level races—usually a presidential, senatorial, or gubernatorial contest—will occupy the top rows, and each subsequent race will occupy the rows below in descending order (from federal, to state, to local, to party races). Each candidate for office is placed in a particular column so that candidates competing in the same race are aligned horizontally.

The incumbent at the top of the ticket—who will almost always be the best-known candidate on the ballot—will usually receive the endorsement of the county party. The county party’s other endorsements will follow in that same column, which provides an enormous advantage to all those down-ballot sharing a column.

Julia Sass Rubin, a Rutgers University professor and scholar of the ballot line, backs this up empirically. She has determined that ballot line placement has provided an average advantage of 38 percentage points, which all but guarantees victory for candidates who receive the county party line. According to Rubin, “New Jersey primary voters are encouraged by the county parties, and conditioned by years of practice to vote for all the candidates on the county line.”

The Nation, April 4, 2024

Recent Posts

MHA program earns CAHME Reaccreditation

The Bloustein School’s Master of Health Administration program has been awarded reaccreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME). “CAHME's mission is to advance the quality of healthcare management education globally....

Courtney Culler Wins Excellence in Student Support Award

Each year, the School of Graduate Studies recognizes the notable achievements of graduate students, faculty, and staff at our annual awards ceremony. These awards recognize important accomplishments in research and scholarship, teaching and mentoring, leadership,...

Rutgers Today Spotlight: Lisa Harrison-Gulla

From Rutgers Today Public Health Career Inspired By Family Legacy and Personal Challenges Lisa Harrison-Gulla began her public health career 30 years ago helping those suffering from addiction in their treatment and recovery. Now, she’s using her experience – along...

NJSPL – Industry Employment Growth in NJ

By Will Irving Unpredictability has been one of the defining features of New Jersey’s labor market for much of the last two years. As the state’s unemployment rate climbed to among the highest in the nation, payroll employment continued to grow steadily before slowing...

MPP Alum Part of WaPo Pulitzer Prize Winning Team

Emily Guskin, MPP '09 and her colleagues at The Washington Post were recently recognized with a Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for their immersive series on the AR-15 rifle in American politics and culture. She is also a 2006 alumnus of the University of...

Upcoming Events

Event Series Informatics

AI Through a Rutgers Lens (Microsoft) Part 3

Microsoft, 885 2nd Avenue, 34th Floor, New York, NY 10017 885 Second Avenue, 34th Floor, New York, NY, United States

Please join us as we explore the world of AI with help from Rutgers experts who wrestle with these questions daily.
Socially Cognizant Robotics: Preparing for a future in which humans and robots regularly interact and society develops new rules.

Jersey City Alumni Mixer

Zeppelin Hall Biergarten 88 Liberty View Dr, Jersey City, New Jersey

Join us for an alumni mixer in #JerseyCity on Thursday, June 6th at Zeppelin Hall Biergarten. Parking for Zeppelin Hall is FREE - more information can be found here: https://zeppelinhall.com/map/. This […]