NJ ballot design gives huge advantage to party-backed candidates, paper finds

When Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise ran for a fifth term in 2019, he had every advantage over his sole primary challenger, Patricia Waiters.

DeGise, a Democrat, had higher name recognition, tens of thousands more in campaign dollars and endorsements from every Hudson politician.

He also had the county line, as political observers have dubbed the prominent position that party-endorsed candidates are given on New Jersey ballots. The ballot presented to voters included DeGise’s name in Column A along with Hudson Democrats running for General Assembly, sheriff and county surrogate. Column B was blank. Waiters’ name was the only candidate marooned on Column C.

DeGise won nearly 90% of the vote.

This is the power of the line. Activists in New Jersey have long argued for abolishing the preferential treatment for party favorites in primaries, and a new report from a Rutgers professor shows why. 

Bergen Record, August 14, 2020