New Jersey's Ballot Line

Imani Oakley Explains the New Jersey Ballot by Richard C Ledes

New Jersey has the most corrupt ballot design in the entire country. The ballot line as it’s known, is a prime example of New Jersey’s Tammany Hall style of politics and the best kept secret of New Jersey’s corrupt machine. New Jersey’s ballot line is unlike any other in the country and serves as an obstacle for progressives seeking to run against incumbents or establishment-backed candidates and serves as a form of voter deception.

In all other states, ballots are usually organized by the position being sought, with candidates running for that position grouped together beneath or next to that position. The design is intended for voters to identify which candidates are running for each respective position clearly.

Example 1: North Carolina Ballot (Click to enlarge)

In New Jersey, however, the primary ballots are designed to favor candidates handpicked by the political establishment. These candidates are placed in a long column or row (the line) that deceives voters into believing they are the “serious” Democrats. Candidates not on this line – usually progressive challengers – are then placed in random places on the ballot, sometimes far away from those on the line, known as “Ballot Siberia”. The end result of this design is to give an electoral advantage to candidates backed by New Jersey’s political party bosses. 

Examples 2 and 3: New Jersey Ballots (Click to enlarge)

Defeating the Ballot Line

Like other forms of establishment control from around the country — whether it is the powerful Queens patronage machine that AOC faced or the dynastic power of the Clay family in Missouri that Cori Bush faced— the ballot line is not insurmountable. Conventional wisdom doubted that political machines in Missouri, Queens, and elsewhere could be beaten until they were defeated. Similarly, the line in New Jersey can be defeated, especially if you target the very heart of the ballot line’s power – its secrecy. 

To beat the ballot line this June 7, 2022 – make sure you arm yourself with all the information to vote for the candidate of your choice – not the machine’s: 

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