The bosses strike back | Editorial

May 12, 2024

We finally got rid of the so-called “county line,” in which the candidates favored by party bosses got a privileged spot on the ballot in New Jersey. So now that it’s gone, how will the overlords cope?

Just fine, it turns out, with Essex County taking center stage for its latest act of magic. The endorsed candidates are still getting coveted spots, just by the luck of the draw, nearly every time.

Imagine that…

You see why experts who study this absurd system wonder why we are sticking with it. “It’s kind of ridiculous that we’re still having a clerk draw names out of a drum when there are computers that could randomize this in a much more scientific way, and would be cheating-proof, essentially,” says Julia Sass Rubin, a Rutgers professor who’s researched this. The order of the candidates could be randomized by voting precinct, too.

There’s just zero reason for us to still be doing it this way, and for our county clerks to have a partisan affiliation, she notes. “The fact that they have historically run on the county line means that they are very, very vulnerable to the wishes of the county party chair,” she told us. “That unnecessarily politicizes and makes partisan their position and gives them a real incentive to cheat.”, May 12, 2024

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