Among the many advantages the Republicans and Democrats have conferred upon themselves is their privileged position on the voting ballot. The establishment political parties are guaranteed the first two columns on every ballot. The other political parties, such as the Libertarian Party, are then put in lottery drawing for columns three and above.
According to state election law, the Republicans and Democrats 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. In 2014 only 8 percent of eligible New Jersey voters participated in one of the two taxpayer-funded primaries. Some 10 percent of 3.7 million votes is 370,000. The law is clear. Neither party even came close.
However, a court decision of 1999 incorrectly interpreted polling at "any primary election" as "all the primary elections … combined." This means low primary turnout doesn't matter. Using total votes combined (including local and county races) ensures the Republicans and Democrats can never lose their special ballot advantage. This will again be the case in the upcoming November election.
Nationwide, only 31 percent of voters self-identify as Democrats and 25 percent as Republicans. Yet the state and the courts continue to interpret election laws in ways that blatantly discriminate in favor of the two established political parties. The time has come to level the playing field and give all political parties equal access to position on the ballot.