Fri. Apr 12th, 2024

Judge strikes New Jersey’s ballot design in a win for Senate candidate Andy Kim

By 37ci3 Mar30,2024

A federal judge on Friday granted New Jersey Democratic Rep. Andy Kim’s request for a new ballot design, dealing a blow to the Garden State’s political machine.

Kim, who is running for Senate this year, and two House candidates filed a lawsuit in February challenging the state’s unique ballot design, known as “county lines.” In this design, candidates endorsed by a county party are grouped in a row or column, and other candidates running for the same offices appear to the side.

Kim and his allies have pushed for an “office block” ballot, where candidates are grouped by office, arguing that the county-line system unfairly benefits candidates backed by party leaders.

U.S. District Judge Zahid N. Quraishi sided with the plaintiffs on Friday, ordering counties to use office block-style ballots for the June 4 primary.

“The integrity of the democratic process for the primaries is at stake and the remedy sought by Plaintiffs is extraordinary,” Quraishi said in his 49-page decision, adding that the plaintiffs faced an “especially onerous” burden to prove their case.

“Nevertheless, the Court finds on this record that Plaintiffs have met their burden and that this is a rare case in which injunctive relief is granted,” Quraishi wrote.

The county clerks named as defendants in the lawsuit can still fight the decision. Spokesperson for the defense This was reported to the New Jersey Globe that lawyers are “assessing their options for filing an appeal.”

But if Qureshi’s decision stands, it would be a major blow to the Democratic Party machine in New Jersey, where county party chairs can wield significant power. In some of the most Democratic states, party endorsements are decided by a party chairman. Kim and his allies argued this process is ultimately undemocratic.

“Today’s decision is a victory for fairer, more democratic politics in New Jersey,” Kim said in a statement Friday. supported the voters and worked tirelessly to fix it.”

Kim’s claim also advanced after her main challenger in the Democratic Senate primary, First Lady Tammy Murphy. ended his campaign on Sunday. Although Kim won some state lines where party endorsements were decided at conventions, Murphy had the support of several party chairmen who were the sole arbiters of their county endorsements.

Kim began his Senate campaign in September after Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez was indicted on federal bribery charges. Menenedes said, denying any wrongdoing he could re-nominate as an independent candidate if acquitted.

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By 37ci3

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