HomeAsian AmericansACLU, Harvard join Andy Kim's lawsuit for fairer ballots in NJ

ACLU, Harvard join Andy Kim’s lawsuit for fairer ballots in NJ

The ACLU and Harvard’s Election Law Clinic have joined Senate candidate Andy Kim’s lawsuit charging that New Jersey’s ballot design is unconstitutional because it allows party bosses to group their favored candidates atop the ballot.

Kim, a three-term Congressman who is mounting a grassroots campaign for U.S. Senate, has charged that New Jersey’s unique ballot design favors his main opponent in the Democratic primary, the current Gov. Phil Murphy’s wife Tammy Murphy, who has never before run for public office.

Kim enjoys a double-digit polling lead ahead of the June 4 primary, but Murphy has the support of key party insiders who can give her the coveted “county line” on their counties’ primary ballots. Kim has sued in federal court to make ballots more fair.

If elected, Kim would be the first AAPI senator from the entire East Coast.

“Every voter has a constitutional right to participate in elections free from the government’s ideological coercion,” said ACLU-NJ Legal Director Jeanne LoCicero in a news release announcing its amicus brief earlier this week. “When the government organizes primary ballots around the county line and gives advantageous ballot positions to certain candidates, it engages in viewpoint discrimination and erodes the power that voters wield at the polls.” 

“As Plaintiffs’ filings make clear, the county line massively distorts election results, conferring an enormous advantage to candidates on the line and a nearly insurmountable handicap to all other candidates,” Harvard Law School’s Election Law Clinic said in its own amicus brief as reported by Politico. “Accordingly, this Court should hold that the county line system is unconstitutional.”

Separately, the League of Women Voters of New Jersey, Salvation and Social Justice, New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice, and New Jersey Policy Perspective filed their own amicus brief, and the New Jersey Working Families Party has filed its own separate lawsuit.

Asian American activists further allege New Jersey’s ballot system is a barrier to underrepresented groups.

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