End Partisanship Files Appeal in NJ Lawsuit Seeking Equal Voter Rights

Last week, the coalition End Partisanship filed an appellant brief with the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in New Jersey, regarding a lawsuit they originally filled in March, which challenged the constitutionality of the state’s current requirements for primary elections.

In the state of New Jersey, 47% of voters are registered as Independent. However, despite the fact these voters are not affiliated with either the Republican or the Democratic parties in New Jersey, they are still forced to fund the primary elections, which only allow participation from Democratic and Republican candidates.

“Appellants have not asked this court (and did not ask the lower court) to issue a decision that would require political parties to allow non-party members to access their Candidate Nomination Proceedings,” stated the appeal. “Rather, Appellants have proceeded from the premise that the State cannot fund, administer, and sanction an integral stage of its election process that excludes a near majority of all registered voters.” 

Chad Peace, a legal advisor from the Independent Voter Project, referred to New Jersey’s current restrictions as “taxation without representation.”

In an email to, Peace pointed out that although 47% of the voters in New Jersey were “forced to pay over $12 million for a primary election that they were not even allowed to participate in,” the success of the current appeal would have implications that are nationwide.

The right to vote derives from citizenship; not by joining a political party,” said Peace. “If the state funds, administers, and sanctions an important stage of the political process, every voter has the right to participate, regardless of his or her party affiliation.”

End Partisanship, which is a coalition of leaders from different political organizations, is working to break the two-party system’s hold on primary elections. Their original lawsuit was filed in March, and has received a negative response from the state of New Jersey.

In May, New Jersey Secretary of State, Kim Guadagno, filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. End Partisanship replied to the motion, arguing that the current primary system in New Jersey  “conditions a voter’s right to participate on giving up their right to not join a private political party,” and “violates New Jersey’s own constitutional prohibition against the private use of taxpayer funds.

Guadagno submitted a reply in July, on behalf of the State, insisting “a voter who feels disenfranchised because of a regulation that conditions participation in primary elections on party membership should simply join the party.”

In August, a New Jersey Federal District Court Judge dismissed the lawsuit filed by End Partisanship, and ruled that only Republicans and Democrats are “qualified” to vote in the state of New Jersey.

The latest appeal from the coalition was filed on November 4. It argues that the lower court’s “use of inapplicable case law,” and its failure to address the coalition’s claims, “catapults a derivative right of political organizations to control their associations ahead of an individual’s fundamental rights.”

The appeal demands that the State must “respect and balance” the individual’s fundamental right to “vote at all integral stages of an election process” and to “be treated fairly and equally regardless of affiliation or non-affiliation with a specific political organization.”

Investigative Journalist Ben Swann addressed the issue of the restrictions New Jersey has placed on its voters, and End Partisanship’s effort to make a difference, in an episode of Truth in Media: