Government Watchdog Group Launches Campaign to Abolish “The Line” on New Jersey Primary Ballots

Amy Kennedy

New Jersey’s primary ballots are designed to confuse and deceive voters, distorting the electoral process and undermining real democracy in our state, according to the nonpartisan Good Government Coalition of New Jersey (GGCNJ).

The group is launching the Better Ballots NJ campaign, to build grassroots pressure on the state legislature to require New Jersey’s primary ballots to look like those used in every other state.  

According to the group:

“All other states structure their primary ballots around the position being sought, with candidates listed beneath or to the side of that position. This ballot design makes it easy for voters to tell who is running for which office. The majority of New Jersey’s counties, on the other hand, structure their primary ballots around a “county line,” a list of party-endorsed candidates for each of the positions that appears as a horizontal or vertical column and that has prime location on the ballot. Candidates running for the highest office, such as President or Governor, are listed at the top of the county line. Candidates who are not endorsed by the party can end up multiple columns away, in what has come to be known as ‘ballot Siberia.’” 

The group argues ballot design can make it difficult for voters to determine who is running for which office and leads to significant undervoting and overvoting. It also greatly privileges the candidates on the county line. A Rutgers study found that, during New Jersey’s 2020 primary, appearing on the county line gave candidates an average 35 percentage point advantage. Very few challengers can overcome such a large deficit, which helps explain why no New Jersey congressional incumbent with the line has lost a primary in at least 50 years. 

New Jersey voters deserve better ballots! 

WHO:

  • Yael Niv, President, Good Government Coalition of NJ
  • Jesse Burns, Executive Director, League of Women Voters of NJ
  • Amy Kennedy, Candidate for Congress in New Jersey’s 2nd District
  • Brandon McKoy, President, New Jersey Policy Perspective
  • Patricia Campos-Medina, President, Latinas United for Political Empowerment (LUPE) (for affiliation purposes only)
  • Kate Delaney, President, South Jersey Progressive Democrats and Good Government Coalition of NJ Board Member
  • Safiyyah Muhammad, Principal and Founder, Urban Matters Advocacy & Action (UMAA Network)
  • Arati Kreibich, Candidate for Congress in New Jersey’s 5th District 
  • Sue Altman, State Director, New Jersey Working Families Party 
  • Justin Goldsman, Chair, Our Revolution Essex County and Good Government Coalition of NJ Board Member

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  • Babu_Rudeboy

    This will never happen. The county chairs of both parties don’t cotton to the idea of their beholden handpicked candidates challenged by upstarts, who are usually waaaayyy too progressive (Democrats) or conservative (Republican) for the chairman’s liking.

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