June 1, 2022

Amici Argued Party Line Subverts Democracy, the Right to Vote and Fair Representation 

NEWARK – The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and Campaign Legal Center today, along with their clients the League of Women Voters of New Jersey and Salvation and Social Justice (“Amici”), applauded Tuesday’s court decision to allow the case of Conforti v Hanlon to move forward. 

Amici filed an amicus curiae brief in June 2021 seeking leave to appear as amici and opposing defendants’ motion to dismiss the Conforti lawsuit, which challenges New Jersey’s use of “the line” and other misleading features in its ballot design. The court granted Amicis’ motion to appear in October 2021. A pdf of the amicus brief can be found here.   

New Jersey is the only state in the country that organizes its primary election ballots by bracketing together a county-supported group of candidates in a column or row (“the line”), rather than listing each office and the candidates for that office in separate sections from one another. These bracketing rules in addition to other ballot design defects not only mislead and confuse New Jersey voters, but also disproportionately harm voters and candidates of color. 

“The court’s decision is good news for our democracy, and our democracy can surely use good news right now,” said Henal Patel, Director of the Democracy & Justice Program at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. “Through use of ‘the line,’ New Jersey is subverting democracy by maintaining an outmoded primary ballot design that misleads and confuses voters and interferes with their right to vote, disproportionately burdening Black and other voters of color and making it more difficult for candidates of color to win office. We look forward to resolution of the case in favor of plaintiffs – and democracy.”