A Superior Court in Mercer County, New Jersey, will hear oral arguments in D-R Organization of New Jersey v Guadagno, 2-1829-14, on Wednesday, September 10, at 11 a.m., in Trenton. The issue is whether New Jersey election officials should eliminate party column headings for the Democratic and Republican Party on the November 4 ballots.
The Defendant election officials are ordered to explain why the court should not find that “in calculating the 10% threshold in N.J.S.A. 19:5-1 the election official defendants may only count each voter who appeared and participated at the June 3, 2014 Regular Primary Elections and Special Primary Elections ‘once’ or as ‘1’ toward the numeric threshold of 372,197.” The Defendants are also ordered to explain why the court shouldn’t declare “that with the correct application of the 10% conditional caveat threshold in N.J.S.A. 19:5-1, that neither defendant Republican Party nor defendant Democratic Party is entitled to preferential ballot placement or a ‘separate party column.'”
New Jersey law, section 19:5-1, says, “No political party which fails to poll at any primary election for a general election at least 10% of the votes cast in the State for members of the General Assembly at the next preceding general election, held for the election of all of the members of the General Assembly, shall be entitled to have a party column on the official ballot at the general election for which the primary election has been held.” The state has already calculated that only 240,749 voters voted in the Democratic June 2014 primary, and only 175,316 voted in the Republican primary. In November 2013, the last time the state voted for members of the General Assembly, there were 2,120,866 votes cast for Governor, and approximately twice as many votes cast for Assembly, since each voter is asked to vote for two candidates, and each party runs two nominees in each district.
All candidates whose names are on the ballot for U.S. House this year have been notified of this hearing, because they are considered to be ‘interested parties.”
If the plaintiffs win this case, the normal New Jersey general election ballot will be altered. The normal ballot has a column for Democratic nominees, with a label in large letters at the top reading “Democratic”; and similar treatment for Republicans. Then, all other candidates are put in a single column, or multiple columns, headed by “Nomination by Petition.” Thanks to Len Marshall for the news.
The New Jersey legislature was in a special session July 31-August 4, and in theory the Governor could call another special session so that the legislature could repeal 19:5-1, which seems to have no purpose whatsoever.