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Star-Ledger Article on New Jersey Ballot Controversy

This Star-Ledger article, from Newark’s daily newspaper, explains how state election officials plan to side-step the law that says parties with a poor primary turnout lose their headings on party columns on general election ballots.

3 Responses

  1. Jim Riley

    The statute (19:5-1) is vague. What does it mean “to poll”?

    It also dates to just after New Jersey had annual legislative elections (general assembly members served one year terms, and senators served 3-year terms, but were elected by thirds). Perhaps before that, there was some more sensible definition since there would have been general assembly elections every year, and you could compare the general assembly primary vote with the general assembly general election vote of the previous year.

    In 1948, general assembly members were elected at large by county, with as many as 12 members elected from a county (Essex). Based on your interpretation, it would have been quite difficult to qualify based on all the votes piled up in the larger counties.

    In the elections following adoption of the 1947 constitution, the state compiled the average number of general assembly votes in each county, and summed those to produce the total number of general assembly votes. This might have been in accord with the pre-1948 standard, and continued out of habit; or it might have been an attempt to produce the denominator for the 1948 (and still current) law.

    In 1966 New Jersey switched to electing two general assembly members per district; and later in response to court decisions switched to electing one senator and two general assembly members from each district. The current election system is not that specified by the constitution, so who know how to interpret a 1948 law that assumed some completely different system.

    New Jersey should switch to Top 2 to eliminate the conflict and confusion.

    • Richard Winger

      I am impressed with the amount of knowledge contained in your comment.

      The law is absurd and should simply be repealed. Also New Jersey ought to switch to an office-group ballot, which the vast majority of states now use.

  2. Joshua H.

    It seems that the comment I first made on this NJ ballot column issue before this new development was posted (On the “New Jersey 2014 Primary Turnout Is So Low, Major Parties May Lose Party Columns On November 2014 Ballot” post) was almost prophetic. I hope the minor parties somehow win their lawsuit, tactics like that of the NJ election offices’ are just completely bogus and undemocratic.

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