Video: Prof. Julia Sass Rubin explains how NJ primary ballots with “county lines” lead to unfair advantages

November 29, 2023

A new report from Rutgers University examines how New Jersey’s unique primary ballots with their “county lines” affect election outcomes and how that impacts the state’s political system. The placement of county political parties’ preferred candidates is translating into favorable outcomes as a result of the design of the state’s ballot system, according to the report published in the Seton Hall Law Review.

“It’s not just that you have a good ballot position, which you do on the county line,” said Julia Sass Rubin, the Rutgers report’s chief author. “It’s also that everyone else has a pretty bad ballot position… And there’s no other states that do things this way.”

Winning the “party line” or “county line” has become a contentious battle in New Jersey’s state and local politics, becoming a game of backroom dealing with closed-door endorsements of a candidate by county leaders.

“This is a sophisticated form of voter suppression,” said Henal Patel, director of law and policy at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.

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