Seton Hall Law Symposium Examines New Jersey’s ‘County Line’ Ballots

March 3, 2023

New Jersey is the only state in the nation in which county party bosses are able to choose where candidates are positioned on the ballot. This arguably assures that the candidates bracketed together in a vertical or horizontal line by the respective two-party establishments will win in primary elections. The primaries often serve as de facto general elections. For example, it is common to see primary election signs posted in Newark, the main city of Democrat-dominated Essex County, pushing “Line A all the way,” a promotion of party-backed candidates.

The results of the county party-line ballot system are significant. Julia Sass Rubin, associate professor at Rutgers University who is part of the faculty at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Public Planning, noted that no New Jersey legislator on the county line has lost a party primary over the last 12 years. No Congressional incumbent on the county line has lost a primary in the last 50 years. There is an average 35-point percentage margin between candidates who are on the county line versus those who are not. 

“The people who get nominated are in the networks of the party chair,” Rubin said. “If you’re not an insider, you have a much lower chance of getting endorsed, and those networks tend to reflect those of the county chairs, who are overwhelmingly male and white. The choice of a few handful of people who don’t reflect the demographics of our state is what prevails over actual voter preferences.” 

Tap Into Newark, 3/3/23

Recent Posts

NJSPL – New Jersey Employment Concerns Revisited

As 2024 began with yet another surprisingly strong jobs report for the U.S. (353,000 jobs added in January and the unemployment rate steady at 3.7%), and with a full year’s worth of 2023 state-level employment data now available, it’s worth briefly revisiting some of...

New Research: The Traffic Calming Effect of Delineated Bicycle Lanes

Abstract We analyze the effect of a bicycle lane on traffic speeds. Computer vision techniques are used to detect and classify the speed and trajectory of over 9,000 motor-vehicles at an intersection that was part of a pilot demonstration in which a bicycle lane was...

Upcoming Events

Event Series CAREERS

Career Virtual Drop-ins

Virtual

Bloustein Career Development Specialists Cheryl Egan and Andrea Garrido will be in a Zoom Room on Monday's beginning January 22, 2024 (excluding holidays and spring break) to answer questions, provide […]