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Lawsuit Responds To Argument That Voters Have No Rights in Primaries, But Must Pay For Them

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On Thursday, New Jersey voters responded in court to a motion to dismiss a lawsuit, filed by New Jersey Secretary of State, Kim Guadagno.

Investigative Journalist, Ben Swann, first placed a spotlight on the lawsuit in March, when he discussed “End Partisanship” on an episode of Truth in Media. “New Jersey requires that a voter affiliate with a political party approved by the State as a precondition to participating in the primary process,” explained Swann.

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This requirement has created major problems for the 47.6% of voters in New Jersey who don’t fall into the State’s approved category of either Democrat or Republican, yet are still required to fund the primary elections through tax dollars. Those who weren’t being properly represented in New Jersey chose to fight back with a lawsuit, using the organization End Partisanship.

End Partisanship is a coalition formed by leaders from different political organizations who seek to to break the two-party system’s hold on primary elections by making their candidates stronger, and by giving a voice to those who either have a third party affiliation, or none at all. A legal advisor from the Independent Voter Project, Chad Peace, described End Partisanship as having developed a “state by state legal strategy defending the rights of individual independent voters in the courtroom.”

The lawsuit End Partisanship filed in New Jersey was a first from the organization, and its leaders plan to use it as a blueprint they can eventually apply to all states. Ben Swann explained that the suit “seeks to protect the fundamental right to vote under the New Jersey and United States Constitutions, which have no requirement that a voter forfeit their First Amendment right not to associate with a political party.”

In May, General John J. Hoffman, an Attorney for the secretary of state’s office, filed a motion to dismiss the challenge on the constitutionality of New Jersey’s primary election system. New Jersey Secretary of State, Kim Guadagno, responded to the constituents by arguing that while American citizens in New Jersey do not have a right to vote in primary elections, political parties do have a right to use taxpayer dollars to fund them.

The supporters of End Partisanship took to court on July 3, to respond to the motion to dismiss the lawsuit. They stated that they had simply asked the State to ensure that the publicly funded primary election system not function as a private enterprise that deprives them of their ability to cast a meaningful vote. They pointed out that by keeping their votes from having equal representation, the state “confers on those private political parties a gratuitous advantage.”

The lawsuit acknowledged the fact that giving the State, “the veil of state sovereignty would de facto immunize private interests from constitutional scrutiny whenever the State, or an actor of the State, is so influenced by those private interests that they become one and the same.”

The lawsuit went on to say that while the State looks to extend its holding by arguing that voters have no fundamental right to participate in the primary stage of an electoral process, the Plaintiff contends that “the State’s primary election system, taken as a whole, confers a special benefit to the dominant private political parties and their members to the complete exclusion of nearly half of all registered voters.”

Plaintiffs assert the necessity of an electoral system that provides all voters an equally meaningful opportunity to participate at all integral stages of the election process, including the primary,” stated the lawsuit.

At a time when unaffiliated voters make up 47 percent of the State’s electorate, the need for judicial intervention is compelling.”

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