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Racial Justice Advocates Urge Appeals Court to Maintain NJ Ballot Design Ruling

Racial justice advocates are urging the appeals court to uphold a lower court’s ruling that banned the use of a county line to separate candidates on New Jersey’s primary ballots. The current design is argued to be discriminatory and unconstitutional.

The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and Campaign Legal Center, representing various groups, filed an amicus curiae brief on April 9 asking the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit to affirm the district court’s ruling in Kim v. Hanlon.

Among the groups represented are the League of Women Voters of New Jersey, Salvation and Social Justice, New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice, New Jersey Policy Perspective, AAPI New Jersey, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and Asian American Advancing Justice.

“It is often said that the race is not for the swift, but those who can endure,” Racquel Romans-Henry, Policy Director at Salvation and Social Justice, said in a press release. “For too long Black voters and communities of color have been subjected to the line and the unjust burden it has placed on our ability to realize our fundamental right to vote.”

According to Bloomberg Law, New Jersey’s ballot “highlights county-party approved candidates in a left-hand column where voters can more easily see them — while dropping other candidates in harder-to-find spots.”

“The line was intentionally designed to manipulate and confuse voters, undermining the very foundation of the democratic process,” Romans-Henry said. “The district court’s decision to stop the use of the county line is the result of the people’s will and endurance.”

The litigation was initially filed by U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ).

In late March, “U.S. District Judge Zahid Quraishi granted the preliminary injunction sought by … Kim and two Congressional candidates to eliminate the so-called county line … in the June primary,” according to Politico.

The county-line ballot design has “given local party bosses inordinate influence over elections,” the site reported.

N.J. Spotlight News reports that the “U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals declined to stay Quraishi’s ruling.” A new hearing has been scheduled for April 12. The website reports that county clerk’s offices that had been appealing the ruling dropped out of the case. Meanwhile, county clerks are moving ahead with new ballot designs.

Editor’s note: This article was partially written with the assistance of A.I.

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Faithfully Magazine is a fresh, bold and exciting news and culture publication that covers issues, conversations and events impacting Christian communities of color.


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