New Jersey’s unique ballot design struck down by judge

March 29, 2024

New Jersey’s unique way of displaying county-endorsed candidates on the ballot has been struck down by a federal judge, after a lawsuit by Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.), who is running for Senate, and two other Democrats running for Congress, who called the design unfair and unconstitutional.

New Jersey’s ballot design process is unlike any other in the nation, and it allows parties to place their endorsed candidates in a specific portion of the ballot known as “the line.” Candidates running without their party’s endorsement appear in a different section of the ballot, farther down from where voters can see their names.

In his lawsuit, Kim claimed that design “cynically” manipulates voters and are “anathema to fair elections.”

Julia Sass Rubin, a professor at Rutgers University who filed an expert brief to the court, said in an interview last week that a ruling forcing a change in ballots would be “an earthquake” and create “a fundamental shift in how New Jersey politics operates.”

“We are the last of the [political] machine states, and the machine relies on the county line to stay in control,” Rubin told The Washington Post last week. “If you displease the people who decide who gets the line,” you could lose your office, she said.

San Fransisco Gate, March 29, 2024

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