An Open Letter to Senator Loretta Weinberg

Imani Oakley
It is the duty of a public servant to serve the people unselfishly and without hesitation. There can be no room for special interests, corruption, nor a diminishment of the people’s right to fully participate in democracy. Unfortunately, in New Jersey, our politics has reached a place where special interests, corruption, and the erosion of the people’s democratic rights have not only become commonplace, but they are activities that are, in fact, encouraged through the existence and abuse of New Jersey’s antiquated line ballot structure. As such, we the people are calling on you, Senator Weinberg, to introduce legislation that would abolish New Jersey’s line ballot system.

As you know, New Jersey’s ballot structure is imposed on no other citizens in the entirety of the nation except those that reside in this state. The ballot line grossly disadvantages New Jerseyans that aren’t financially privileged or politically connected and inhibits them from making their case as to why they should be chosen to serve the public. Instead of allowing all of our residents to have an equal chance of serving their community, our unique ballot structure is manipulated so those who do not receive the line have a 35-60% vote disadvantage merely as a result of their ballot placement. This leaves New Jerseyans stuck in a reality where their elected officials are chosen by and beholden to county party chairs and not the people that they claim to serve.

Again, we the people are calling on you, Senator Weinberg, to introduce legislation that will abolish New Jersey’s line ballot and allow democracy to freely flow throughout our state’s elections. We are also calling on you to not merely introduce this legislation, but to use the gravitas that you have amassed over the years through your other noble legislative endeavors to see to it that this legislation gets passed by both chambers and signed into law.

Every year in New Jersey can often feel like watching the same bad play over and over again, where there is an immensely important and groundbreaking piece of legislation that one of the “progressive” members of the legislature wants to get passed, but alas the Senate Speaker won’t allow it. Every year in New Jersey can often feel like watching the same bad play over and over again where after inexplicable delays and lack of legislative will is allowed to extend for months–sometimes even years–that immensely important and groundbreaking piece of legislation gets watered down and is riddled with so many shortcomings that the bill might as well haven’t even become law. This time things can be different. This time, Senator Weinberg, you can truly serve the people of this great state by ensuring that each and every election is fueled by the spirit of democracy. Not special interests. Not corruption. Democracy.

Senator Weinberg, you have been a champion and friend to women all across this great state. With your fierce and unabashed fight to rid our government and the state at large from the negative impacts of sexism towards women, there is no doubt in my mind that you would support an initiative that has the potential to get even more like minded women elected to office in this great state. With your record of being a champion of transparency and good government, I know that you will fight for a better democracy in this state, even if it means removing the very safety net that allows you to remain comfortably in your seat without the threat of a challenger. I know that your commitment to the people is such that you will fight for us to have a fair ballot.

Imani Oakley is the North Jersey Regional Director for Progressive Democrats of New Jersey.

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