Political Organizer Imani Oakley Announces Ballot Education Series
Citing NJ’s archaic ballot design as an obstacle to a true multiracial representative democracy, political organizer Imani Oakley has announced an educational series meant to draw attention to the issue.
The talk series — dubbed the People’s Ballot Initiative — will see Ms. Oakley work with local community groups and religious institutions across Northern New Jersey. Each talk will focus on how bracketing advantages assigned by county-level political bosses — a power colloquially known as “the line” — damages New Jersey’s democracy.
“Every part of our state is weakened when our democracy is eroded,” Oakley said. “And there is nothing more corrosive in New Jersey politics today than the county line.”
Oakley — an experienced progressive organizer in New Jersey — has long been a vocal opponent of “the line” and the establishment party leadership that benefits from its continued use.
“The county line empowers party bosses at the expense of the people,” Oakley said. “Instead of supporting the democratic process, the county line gives a massive — and undemocratic — advantage to candidates that pledge their loyalty to party bosses. The result is a non-representative political class and crumbling physical and social infrastructure.”
Over the last two years, she has written numerous articles and used her social media presence to push the ballot design issue into mainstream discussion. Oakley’s work has been instrumental in supporting a current lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the county line, perhaps the most severe challenge to the county party system in a generation.
Oakley has also made the disproportionate effect “the line” has on Black and Brown communities a centerpiece of the People’s Ballot Initiative series.
“Despite having a sizeable minority population, New Jersey is dominated by a largely white and male political elite,” Oakley said. “This is a direct result of the party boss system and the power of the county line. It’s time that we — the public — take back the power, and that starts with eliminating the line.”