June 1, 2021


Democracy Advocates File Brief in Case Challenging New Jersey’s Primary Ballot Design

Brief Argues “the Line” Subverts Democracy, the Right to Vote and Fair Representation


NEWARK – The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and Campaign Legal Center today, on behalf of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey and Salvation and Social Justice, filed an amicus curiae brief in Conforti v Hanlon, a case challenging New Jersey’s use of “the line” and other misleading features in its ballot design. A pdf of the 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.

“During a time when democracy is under attack and we must do everything possible to strengthen and expand it, New Jersey is instead subverting it by maintaining an outmoded primary ballot design that misleads and confuses voters and interferes with their right to vote,” said Henal Patel, Director of the Democracy and Justice Program at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. “These ballot design flaws disproportionately burden Black and other voters of color and make it more difficult for candidates of color to win office, undermining the goal of fair representation. This is exactly the opposite of what our state should be doing during these pivotal times.”