To: All County Chairs, Governor Murphy, Senate President Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Coughlin, and Chairman Currie:
New Jersey does not have a functioning democracy in our primary elections. We, the undersigned, are demanding equitable and democratic reform to our ballot structure and the immediate elimination of “The Line” in all N.J. primary elections.
The antiquated structure of New Jersey's ballot does not exist anywhere else in the United States. "The Line," which is controlled by party chairs in each of New Jersey’s 21 counties, gives an advantage to party insiders and incumbents to a degree that is unrivaled in American democracy. The Line unfairly disadvantages progressive insurgents, many of whom are from the marginalized communities who find their current elected official neglecting to represent them. Maintaining The Line fails to meet the needs and reflect the diversity of our state.
A decade worth of evidence proves that The Line rigs the system to protect incumbents. On the current New Jersey legislative map — encompassing 10 years of 540 state legislative primary elections in which an incumbent ran for election in a primary — only one incumbent lost a primary election. In this incumbent’s reelection, they were moved off of their Line. That means over the past decade, The Line has a 100% incumbent protection rate for state Legislative races.
Further, the fate of New Jersey’s elected officials is decided by Party officials who do not represent our electorate. The Democratic County Chair leadership in New Jersey is overwhelmingly white (76%) and male (76%). The Line distorts our democracy and upholds a corrupt system in which elected officials are accountable to Party insiders (and their corporate backers), instead of their constituents.
Many of New Jersey's most dire problems — a deep racial wealth disparity, environmental injustice, our lack of storm preparedness, our regressive taxation systems, unsustainable and irresponsible development — are connected to our lack of representation, and this failure of democracy. For New Jersey to elect leaders committed to justice, racial equity, and transformative change, we need ballot reform.
New Jersey deserves true democracy. We the undersigned demand an end to The Line for ALL primary elections, and that New Jersey transition immediately to a traditional "bubble ballot," the familiar type that is used in nearly every other state in the country.
This petition will be delivered to: All 21 Democratic County Chairs, Governor Murphy, Senate President Sweeney, Lt Governor Sheila Oliver, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, Secretary of State Tahesha Way, Assembly Speaker Coughlin, and Chairman Currie.