New Jersey is slowly rejecting the two-party system. Voter participation and congressional approval ratings are both at record lows. Yet the courts have issued interpretations of election law that discriminate in favor of the two establishment political parties.
The establishment political parties are guaranteed the first two columns on every ballot. Meanwhile, the Libertarian Party (the third-largest and fastest-growing party) is “lucky” to receive the third column and is often relegated to the fifth or sixth column. This is unfair. All political parties should be treated equally under the law during the construction of the ballot.
In 2014, only 8 percent of eligible New Jersey voters participated in one of the two taxpayer-funded primaries. According to election law 19:5-1, the two parties lose their special columns on the left of the ballot if neither can “poll” at least 10 percent of the votes cast in the previous Assembly election. The law seems clear: Neither party came close.
However, the New Jersey Conservative Party Inc. vs. Farmer decision of 1999 handed down by the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division, interpreted polling at “any primary election” as the number of voters at all the primary elections (including local and county races) combined. This means low primary turnout doesn’t matter. Instead, total votes combined ensure these two parties can never lose their special ballot advantage.
The current system discriminates disproportionately against the third-largest party. The Libertarian Party is the future.
There can be no fair elections without a fair ballot. It’s time for our ballots to catch up with reality and extend equality to all political parties.