Andy Kim Sues to Block Preferential Treatment on Ballots in Senate Race

February 26, 2024

Representative Andy Kim, a Democrat running for Senate in New Jersey against the state’s first lady, filed a federal lawsuit on Monday that seeks to redesign the ballot before June’s contentious primary election, arguing the current layout unfairly benefits candidates supported by party leaders.

The complaint aims to topple New Jersey’s longstanding ballot-design process, which is unique to the state, by asserting it violates the constitution and permits voters to be “cynically manipulated.”

The legal maneuver is a direct attack on the governor’s wife, Tammy Murphy, who is Mr. Kim’s chief opponent in the Democratic primary and is likely to benefit most from the way ballots have traditionally been designed in 19 of the state’s 21 counties.

And it is certain to intensify public debate over the use of “the line,” the preferential ballot position that allows party leaders to bracket their preferred candidates for all races in a prominent column or row. Unendorsed candidates appear off to the side, in a nearby row or at the ballot’s edge, a location commonly referred to as “ballot Siberia.”

The New York Times, February 26, 2024

A recent study conducted by Julia Sass Rubin, a professor at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers, examined 45 congressional and Senate races in New Jersey between 2002 and 2022. The study found that on average, county-endorsed candidates placed in the line enjoyed a 38-point advantage.

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